Nationals leader Michael McCormack says he is "absolutely" open to a gender equality target to help more women get into federal parliament.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is open to a gender equity target for the Nationals after it was raised by the woman who he replaced in parliament.
Former Riverina MP Kay Hull said a target of at least 50 per cent women in the federal party room would help address having just two women out of 22 parliamentarians.
Ms Hull, who was the Nationals' first female lower house member, said the party needed more women.
"We should have a strong, clear target to achieve that and that's what we're working on at the moment," she told AAP.
"I would like to see at least 50 per cent of our party room as women as being our target."
Mr McCormack said he would "absolutely" be open to introducing a target.
"The National Party has always been merit based and long may it continue that way," he told AAP.
"If you stand up at a preselection it's the best person on the day."
He said he encouraged more women to consider what they could offer the party, while also pointing to 15 preselected female Nationals candidates for the May 18 election.
But Ms Hull and Mr McCormack are against introducing quotas.
"You're not doing any women any favours by having a quota - it's almost like you're a token," she said.
The Nationals needed to put programs in place to ensure women put their hands up for preselection, Ms Hull said.
"A lot of times women are not forthcoming with it because they're afraid - rightly so - of the backlash," the former MP said.
"In the first instance I think women have to put their hand up to be preselected."
Mr McCormack became the member for the NSW seat of Riverina following Ms Hull's retirement in 2010.