It is that time of year again!

When enthusiastic students, proud parents, supportive friends, and excited relatives attend schools and universities to witness the solemn ritual of receiving final diplomas and degrees. An emotional moment full of promise, ambition for the future, and gratitude for the time and effort leading up to this momentous accomplishment.


However, there are still many individuals who miss out on this achievement, lacking the necessary support to pursue their dreams. They may not have found the strength, assistance, or economically favourable conditions to be able to dedicate themselves to their studies. Recognising this issue, Soroptimists have long provided scholarship grants to help students overcome these obstacles.


Today, as successful graduates bask in the glory of their hard-earned degrees, they may find themselves uncertain about the path ahead. They may be unaware of the next steps to take, or the additional skills needed to build a successful career. They have only just crossed the first hurdle in achieving their dreams, which guided their choice of study.


Following the pandemic, businesses underwent organisational transformations. With the new reality came a new flexibility in working arrangements, which acted to help reduce quick quitting and burnout. While the landscape changed, the barrier known as the glass ceiling remained.


I used to believe that breaking the glass ceiling was becoming less of an issue, however, the pandemic caused a significant setback to women’s representation in top positions. If we examine the field of science, for instance, the percentage of women receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics stands at a mere 2%, a slight improvement from where it recently stood at 1% – a statistic that is far from deserving applause.


To truly break through the glass ceiling, more is needed. Starting with a shift in mindset, both within communities and among women themselves. Women tend to ‘care’ more than their male peers about the collateral damage sometimes associated with shattering through the ceiling, making them hesitant while others take the positions they rightfully deserve.



Soroptimists actively foster this potential through Leadership Academies and mentoring programmes. These create a safe space for breaking through barriers and justifying ambitious aspirations. Our strategic plan incorporates the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of Education (SDG4) and Gender Equality (SDG5), going beyond the conventional concept of education to include  leadership education and empower women to shatter the glass ceiling.


Congratulations to all of those who obtained their degrees! Get ready to follow your ambitions all the way up to the top, smashing through the glass ceiling along the way!


Yours sincerely,

Carolien Demey

SIE President 2021-2023



Follow Soroptimist International of Europe on social media: