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Women accounted for a record-high 20.1 percent of those who passed the Level-1 civil service examination for fiscal 2009, the first time the ratio has topped 20 percent since the current test was adopted in 1960, the National Personnel Authority said Tuesday.

The 300 women were among the 1,494 applicants who passed the government’s top-tier exam, the authority said. The total number of successful applicants, however, fell 51 from fiscal 2008.

The new ratio for women broke the previous record of 19.2 percent set in fiscal 2008.

Women vying for administrative positions — in law, the economy and administration — hit an all-time high of 179, up five from the preceding year and making up a record 23.7 percent of the 755 applicants who qualified in the three areas.

A personnel authority official said the increase in successful female applicants is a result of its aggressive campaign to recruit women, which includes sponsoring seminars and giving explanatory briefings.

The Level-1 exam is considered a prerequisite for getting into “career” positions that can eventually lead to senior posts in the central government bureaucracy.

One in 14.9 applicants passed the most recent exam, compared with one in 13.7 the previous year, the personnel authority said.

The drop in the ratio means that competition is rising as more students apply for public-sector jobs while private-sector companies curb recruitment and downsize to deal with the recession.

People who passed the test will be interviewed by the ministries and agencies they want to work for. Only a third will be chosen to become career bureaucrats.

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