LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Young women in Britain shy away from top graduate jobs despite being more likely than men to land them, a recruitment group said on Monday, calling on employers to do more to address the gender imbalance.

In 2015, female applicants to graduate schemes outperformed their male colleagues and were more likely to be successful in securing a position, a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) revealed.

However leading companies across a number of high-pay sectors, including banking, consulting, construction, engineering and telecommunications, ended up hiring more male graduates.

AGR said the reason was that not enough women put themselves forward for graduate programs in the first place.

Only 47 percent of applicants were female, despite women making up 54 percent of the student population.

The association said negative stereotypes in some sectors, such as the perception of the engineering industry "as old, white and male" were a factor in keeping female talent away.

"Our evidence suggests it is an attractiveness issue," AGR chief executive Stephen Isherwood told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In March, an inquiry into gender diversity in Britain's boardrooms found nearly two-thirds of Britain's 350 biggest listed companies had failed to reach a target of having 25 percent female board members. Four-fifths have two or fewer women on their boards.

Isherwood said companies needed to redouble their efforts to recruit more women, engaging with students on campus and promoting female role models.

"It's about getting the message out that for female graduates to reach their full potential there is a broad range of opportunities out there that they should be vigorously engaging with," he said.

The AGR study was conducted on data from 170 employers and 22,049 graduates.

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)