Hello and welcome to the first of the Murray Edwards College blogs in celebration of our 60th Anniversary. Every week for the next year, with a few extras at the beginning to get going, there will be a Murray Edwards blog about life in the College now; experiences of alumnae; and the 60th Anniversary events.
It’s interesting that the College has itself been ‘Going Places’ through its short history, as you’ll see further below. But people still ask “why a College for women, now?”
The answer is, of course, that women are still not treated equally in the developed world let alone in the poorest countries. The evidence of this has been played out to us in the survey of alumnae we have just undertaken and which will be launched on 6 March. Dr Sara Horrell, Fellow in Economics who helped design the survey will tell you more in her blog entry later this week.
Within the responses to the survey women say they want their views to be heard and respected and for advancement to be grounded in a meritocratic process. It seems that many of us were surprised after Cambridge to find that this was not the case.
So as women we want an effective voice and we want merit to open the door to opportunity. That message resonates with this blog as students and alumnae tell us about their experiences, their views and the opportunities they have harnessed. It’s also a pattern reflected in our history.
Murray Edwards was founded as New Hall in 1954, by a pioneering Cambridge academic, Dame Rosemary Murray. The College was founded as the 3rd Foundation for women in Cambridge just 6 years after the decision to allow women to become members of the University (take degrees). The initial intake was just 16 women, selected on the basis of their academic potential. We moved to our new building in 1964 as our numbers grew, and became a full college in 1972. We adopted our current name in 2008, following a remarkable donation of £30m by a grateful alumna Ros Smith and her husband, Steve Edwards.
Despite these significant changes the values at the heart of the College remain as important and relevant as at its inception: we want to offer the opportunity that studying at Cambridge provides, to outstanding young women from all backgrounds. In addition we encourage those who study here to develop the skills and confidence to achieve their high aspirations for life and for career. You’ll hear about this through posts from our students in their experience of our Gateway Programme and other activities.
We launch our 60th celebrations at the time of International Women’s Day joining hands (metaphorically at least) with our many friends and alumna across the world. Do join us through this blog.
Dame Barbara Stocking
President, Murray Edwards College