Podcast: “I hope they think twice and apply” – driving diversity in Oxbridge education with Catherine Arnold, Master of St Edmund’s College

Resilience, Confidence, Communication
In this podcast episode Catherine Arnold discusses the drive for diversity and inclusion at Cambridge University and her role as the first female Master of St Edmund’s College.


When Catherine Arnold became the 15th Master of St Edmunds College in October 2019 she brought the tally of female heads of colleges across Cambridge University to 50 percent. An impressive statistic, considering women weren’t even allowed to become full members of the 800-year-old university until 1948. One of Oxbridge’s most diverse and international colleges, St Edmund’s was founded over 120 years ago to house Catholic students, previously excluded from the university for centuries. As such, inclusion was at its core from the start – and it became the first male Cambridge college to accept women in 1969. As the college celebrates ‘50 years of women at St Edmunds’ this year, Catherine discusses female role models, the structural and perceptional challenges of inclusion around an Oxbridge education and how St Edmund’s continues to focus on creating a space for academic excellence without barriers.

Recording notes:

    00:35 - Progress of gender equality
    01:58 - Cambridge's challenges on diversity
    04:25 - Oxbridge perceptions
    07:07 - St Edmund college mindset
    10:25 - Collegiate differences and diversity
    14:22 - Role models
    22:40 - Value of alumni
    17:55 - Most pressing issue of diversity, and where do we start
    24:03 - Essential qualities of leadership
    30:16 - What kind of legacy would you want for St Edmunds.