TORY gains cost Scotland the chance to get more women into parliament, experts said yesterday.

While women head the country’s three biggest parties, and the Green leadership team is gender-balanced, the level of women elected on Thursday showed no change on 2011.

Just 45 of Scotland’s new MSPs are women – compared with 84 men. Despite making up around 51 per cent of the population, the Holyrood rate is a mere 34.8 per cent.

The figure means the 2003 result, when almost 40 per cent of winners were women, remains the most equal gender split Scotland has ever seen.

Thirteen years on, Dr Meryl Kenny of Edinburgh University attributed the stagnation to Tory success after Ruth Davidson’s party refused to introduce gender quotas and fielded a majority of male candidates.

The claim was backed up by Talat Yaqoob, co-founder of the cross-party Women 50:50 campaign, who yesterday vowed to push harder for legislation to tackle the issue.

Yaqoob told The National: “What this election has done is illustrate the need not for just rhetoric and voluntary action but for legislation to be implemented. When the Conservatives had made so many gains and had multiple lists where there were no women whatsoever, it’s not surprising there was no change. They need to start listening. You cannot be inclusive if 51 per cent of the population are not properly represented.”

Kenny, who also works with the Centre on Constitutional Change, said: “At the start of the Scottish Parliament election campaign, it seemed that the tide had finally turned for women’s representation in Scotland.

"The past two years had ushered in change not only from the top down – evidenced in the ‘female face’ of political leadership in Scotland – but also from the bottom up, through the civic awakening that had accompanied the referendum.

“Expectations for women’s representation were high in the run-up to the 2016 Holyrood elections, particularly given that both Labour and the SNP, as well as the Greens, were using strong gender quota measures.

“In the end, however, the results are disappointing. While the SNP’s and Labour’s use of gender quotas have made a difference, Conservative gains have meant that the overall numbers have stagnated, while in the end the Greens only returned one female MSP. The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are now a men-only parliamentary party both north and south of the Border.

“Thirteen years on, the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections remain the high point of women’s representation in Scotland at all political levels at 39.5 per cent. We can and must do better.”

Following a major push within the party, the proportion of SNP women elected hit a record high of 43 per cent, up from 27 per cent last time around.

And while the Greens ensured balance within their candidates, just one of their five MSPs is female, with co-convener and women’s activist Maggie Chapman amongst those to lose out.

Co-convener Patrick Harvie expressed regret on Twitter, saying: “I’m delighted that there are six Green MSPs at Holyrood, but very sorry that despite our candidates being fully gender balanced, our group isn’t.”

Meanwhile, Labour losses also saw figures like Cara Hilton fall and every one of the five LibDem winners is a man.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has repeatedly rejected calls for the introduction of gender quotas, calling them “a crude tool” which “cannot deliver equality”. Her party's candidate group was 86 per cent male.