The Church of England's House of Bishops has endorsed "robust processes and steps" towards preparing legislation to allow women into the episcopate.
The bishops want to introduce legislation "at the earliest possible date".
The announcement has been welcomed by advocates for women bishops WATCH (Women And The Church).
"Any such legislation will need to be unequivocal in its affirmation of women as priests and bishops and provide an institutional environment in which women's ordained ministry can truly flourish," the group said.
The previously all-male meetings to discuss the legislation are to be attended by eight senior women clergy.
WATCH welcomed the move, saying it would be "very helpful" in preparing the House to receive its first female bishops and in the development of new legislation towards that end.