Women outperform men at securing top jobs in the civil service, according to a report published today.

The Report of the Top Level Appointments Committee, known as TLAC, assessed the recruitment for senior positions in the civil service at Secretary General or Assistant Secretary level between July 2011 and December 2012.

The report states that women consistently succeed in higher proportions than men at all stages of the TLAC recruitment process.

It found a steady trend showing that while women represent 24% of applicants, they succeed in higher proportions at all stages.

Five years ago, female candidates accounted for 12.5% of appointments, but since 2010, cumulatively they have accounted for 41% of appointments.

TLAC recommends an investigation into why there are relatively low levels of applications from women, even though women consistently outperform their male counterparts at all stages of the TLAC process, including appointments.

Traditionally, senior civil service posts would have been filled through the promotion of serving civil servants.

However, the number of candidates from outside the civil service is gradually rising.

As of 2012, a quarter of all appointments involved non-civil servants.

Most of the external appointments involved private sector applicants, with applications and appointments from the wider public and semi-state sector were low.

The number of private sector candidates for top civil service positions increased from 4.5% in 2010 to 21% in 2012.

The report also notes that some private sector applicants perceive the civil service as a closed shop, where an external candidate would find it difficult to succeed - and that exposure to public scrutiny can act as a deterrent.

TLAC also refers to the "sometimes negative perceptions of the calibre of civil servants", but states that it found a high standard of candidates from the civil service.

TLAC received 1,073 applications in 35 competitions for top jobs, and 34 appointments were made.

The report also notes that there is increasing mobility between government departments.

TLAC calls for a more detailed assessment of potential barriers to applying for top posts.