They may be young and gifted but research at the elite institution has found that female undergraduates are shying away from applying to jobs in banking, finance, management consultancy, engineering and resource management.
Partly as a result, starting salaries for women when they graduate are on average £2,000 to £3,000 lower than their male counterparts.
“Women are earning less on leaving Oxford. On the face of it, this is ridiculous,” said Jonathan Black, the careers service director at the university. “We have high quality, high achieving students of both genders.
“From the research it appears that women are selecting lower paid jobs. They perceive more prejudice in certain industries and are saying 'I won’t strive for that really high paid job’.
"We are not trying to push loads of women in to the City but we are trying to say, you should feel able to apply for these sorts of jobs.”
The four day programme at Oxford which starts this week will help 45 female undergraduates improve their self-confidence and decision making, think positively and build on their strengths.
Assertiveness training will teach them how to deal with opposition and thrive in challenging situations.
“What we find is that women can be pretty assertive in some parts of their lives but not in others,” said Jenny Daisley, the chief executive of the Springboard Consultancy which will run the programme along with staff at the university.
“The undergraduate sitting quiet as a mouse in supervision, giving the impression that they have not got anything to say, may have lots to say but needs positive advice so that they are not invisible.”
Successful female employees from RBS and BP, which are sponsoring the course, will talk about their lives and careers. A small number of sought-after internships at the two companies will be made available to the Oxford course participants.
RBS’s involvement follows a commitment by the bank to target female recruits, increasing its national proportion of female graduate applications from 35 per cent to 50 per cent by 2014.
Sophie Kelley, 20, studying law at Corpus Christi College, is hoping the course will make her more confident in tutorials and interviews.
“I am applying to London law firms for vacation schemes and it is so competitive,” she said. “The rejection letters don’t give any real feedback so I’m hoping the Springboard programme might give me an insight and advice.”
Anna Broadley, 19, a first year history student at Brasenose College, who is also taking part said: “Boys seem to have a more self conviction and see the bigger picture generally, even when their self-belief is not necessarily based on any greater academic merit.
"While the girls are freaking out about whether they have done enough work for a tutorial, the boys are more likely to say 'I’ll just blag it’.
“I’m really interested in the elements of the course on being assertive and taking the initiative - turning that uncertainty that women may have in to a positive thing.”
Poppy Waskett, 22, a first year experimental psychology student from Harris Manchester College, said she was tempted by management consultancy but hoped to gain inspiration from the career women giving presentations.
The Springboard programme was developed in the 1980s for the BBC and is now a social enterprise company. Its programmes, tailored to specific groups, have been delivered to hundreds of thousands of women worldwide.
Women currently make up just 15 per cent of FTSE 100 directors. A study last year revealed that of the 200 most senior bankers at a sample of 20 investment banks and investment banking divisions, just 17 were women.
David Cameron has said that business leaders have not made sufficient progress in ensuring women get top jobs.
In February, he attended a summit in Stockholm to learn from countries such as Norway and Iceland, which have so called “golden skirt quotas” to increase the number of women in boardrooms.
So far, the Government has called for firms to voluntarily increase the number of senior female executives to 25 per cent of the total by 2015.
Top tips for Assertiveness
1. Listen to what someone else is saying
2. Demonstrate that you understand it
3. Say what you think
4. Specifically say what you want to happen
5. After stating what you want, find a joint solution
Top tips for career success
1. Rule yourself in
2. Stretch yourself early on
3. Learn how to do the job once you have got it
4. Concentrate on what you can do, not what you can’t do
5. Have a variety of goals, from the short term to the “fantastical”