Scott Morrison does not believe introducing gender quotas will topple the obstacles that are keeping more women from advancing in the Liberal Party.
His rejection of the concept comes as the party's Women's Council chair says it's time for the Liberals to acknowledge what they've done so far to recruit more women has not worked.
The prime minister has conceded women are under-represented in the Liberals, but doesn't think quotas are the way to turn things around.
"It's never something I have supported," he told ABC TV on Monday.
"Because I believe in any political organisation it should be a matter of one's own effort and exertion and credibility ... I don't believe quotas are the way you remove obstacles."
Whether or not quotas would be brought in is a matter for the Liberal's organisation wing, Mr Morrison noted.
But he said he is working with Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer on a "practical exercise", similar to training programs that helped a record number of Liberal women get pre-selected at the 1996 election.
"What I am focusing on with Kelly and other members of the team is to ensure that we remove the obstacles preventing women from going forward," he said.
"It's a matter of supporting women throughout the pre-selection process...then when they get into parliament, ensure they're getting the support they need to do the job."
Earlier, Mr Morrison noted there was a "very strong" representation of women in the Liberal party executive.
His ministry includes six women, up from five under Malcolm Turnbull, but totalling a quarter of all ministers. Five more women are in junior positions.
Overall, less than a quarter of federal Liberal MPs are women compared to almost half of Labor representatives.
Liberal Party Women's Council chair Helen Kroger said she's been part of a conversation about getting more women in the party for decades and it's time to decide what mechanisms can be used.
"We have to face up that what we've done has not worked," she told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
She said processes in the Victorian branch of the party could serve as a good example for the rest of the nation.
Former minister Craig Laundy has become the first male Liberal Party MP to come out in support of gender quotas.
Mr Laundy says he agrees with merit-based preselections, but fears that without a quota system the Liberals won't adequately increase female representation.
"Perhaps a first step is short-term intervention with a quota system in safe seats and selected safe Senate spots so the party can grow its female representation to the 50/50 level," he told The Australian.
Liberal frontbencher Sussan Ley first raised the prospect of adopting gender quotas, with senior MPs including Marise Payne and Julie Bishop publicly lamenting the low number of women.
However, Liberal ministers including Simon Birmingham, Steve Ciobo and Josh Frydenberg are all satisfied with the party's target of 50 per cent female representation by 2025.
Australian Associated Press