Less than half as many girls as boys apply to study economics at the university, while only 10 percent of females enrol at university with an A level in maths, compared to 19 percent of males, the findings showed.
If more girls become proficient in maths, more are likely to enrol in an economics degree, the study suggested.
"This under-representation of women economics degrees could have major implications in policy making as economists have an influential role in think tanks, ministries, central banks and international organisations like the IMF and the World Bank," said lead author Mirco Tonin of the University of Southampton.
The lack of women with degrees in economics could also be contributing to the gender pay gap, since economics graduates tend to receive relatively high average earnings, suggested the researchers.
No discrimination was found against females in the university application process and once they have applied, females are as likely as males to receive an offer of a place on an economics course, pointed out the study.
Those females who apply to study economics normally have a stronger maths background and better grades than male applicants, found the study.
The study was published in the journal CESifo Economic Studies.