The number of women apprentices has doubled over the past decade, but they are more likely to end up in low-paid jobs.
While half of all apprentice starts in 2011/12 were female the TUC and the National Apprenticeship Service say gender stereotyping was dissuading young women from careers in traditional male industries, with women making up just 2 per cent in construction and vehicle maintenance and 4 per cent in engineering.
Many female apprentices work in female-dominated sectors such as early years’ childcare and hairdressing, where wages tend to be lower than other professions, and the study also raised concerns about the low number of black and Asian people taking apprenticeships, especially in higher-paid sectors such as engineering and construction.
Fewer than one in 25 black and Asian apprentices entered engineering, construction and electro-technical in 2011/12, while Asian people took up just 4.1 per cent of apprenticeships, despite making up 7.5 per cent of the wider UK population, the research revealed.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "There is genuine political will to try and improve apprenticeships and people's access to them. However, this research shows that huge inequalities remain.
“Young women still overwhelmingly find themselves pursuing careers in 'traditional' industries which tend to pay less and black and Asian people continue to be under-represented in key sectors of the economy.
"Unless we create better training and employment opportunities for young people, and challenge gender stereotyping and discrimination from the outset, the situation is not going to improve.
"Unions, employers and government must work together to provide better careers advice in schools and to support and improve opportunities for all young people."
The report called for better careers advice for young people, more work experience and an increase in visits for young women to male-dominated workplaces.
Minister for Women and Equalities Helen Grant said: "Young girls and women should not be restricted by a narrow set of gender-stereotyped ideals. Women outperform men in so many ways and we need to fill them with the confidence that matches their potential.
"While there are more women in work than ever before STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is still a male-dominated world. Women are seriously under-represented in this sector. Not only are women missing out on what can be a highly rewarding career, but UK companies are missing out on a huge pool of talent.
"It's important to show our future generations that a career in science and engineering isn't just for men. Progress is being made with more students, both girls and boys, opting to study STEM subjects in schools. The Government is supporting a range of activities which aim to help promote STEM education and careers such as the STEMNET Ambassadors programme and a diversity programme."