For the survey, 700 students at Oxford, Cambridge and London School of Economics nominated about 100 of their peers whom they regarded as most likely to succeed.
A total of 78% of those nominated were men - far higher than the proportion in the universities as a whole. Both men and women tended to nominate men in the survey, conducted by Fresh Minds, the recruitment firm.
More than 60% of those nominated went to private school - also a disproportionately high figure.
Tony Butler, head of the Oxford University careers service, said "These figures tie in to the proportion of applications to, for example, banking and are of concern to the careers service and many employers."
A total of 30% said they were interested in banking and finance as a career, the same level as consultancy. The media was next at 24% and then law at 18%.
Fresh Minds suggested that to redress the bias shown in the poll, women should make more effort to stand out in a crowd. It added that the success of private school pupils could be a result of greater self-confidence.
The poll showed that 76% of those nominated had represented their university at sport, 48% had held an elected position in their college or student union, and 40% were involved in drama or music.
A total of 37% were involved in journalism and 30% had done something entrepreneurial.