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Meet Professor Olabisi Ugbebor, The First Nigerian Woman To Obtain A Ph.D. Degree In Mathematics

Prof Olabisi Ugbebor is the first woman to be a Professor of Mathematics from the University of Ibadan, her alma mater.

Born in Lagos and educated at Queen’s College, she gained admission to study Mathematics in 1969 at the University of Ibadan.

In 1969, she won a Federal Government  scholarship to study mathematics at University of Ibadan, where she was the only female student in her class of seven, and graduated in 1972 with Second Class Upper Honours degree in mathematics.

The University of Ibadan later sponsored her to the University of London, the First University Statistics Department in the world,  for her masters programme in 1973 and her PhD in 1976 at age 25

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Professor Olabisi is also the first Nigerian woman to be appointed Ag. Head, Department of Mathematics, University of Ibadan.

She is a Reciprocity member of the London Mathematical Society; she is also a member of the Nigerian Mathematical Society, member of the Mathematics Association of Nigeria, member of the African Economic Society, and a member of the Third World Organisation of Women in Science, Italy.

An associate Professor of the Mathematics Department in University of Ibadan, she still derives pleasure in imparting knowledge.

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One Comment

  1. Commendable achievements and kudos!

    However, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams is the first lady Professor of Mathematics in Nigeria and indeed Africa. She was appointed full professor of mathematics by the University of Lagos in 1976. She also is the first lady Vice-Chancellor of a University in Africa (University of Benin, Benin- City: 1985 -1991.

    Professor Grace Alele-Williams, OON, was born December 16, 1932 in Warri, Delta State of Nigeria.
    In 1963, Williams became the first Nigerian woman to earn any doctorate – in this case, for mathematics. She later became the first woman appointed Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian university.
    Mrs. Williams made her mark as a first class academician and later proved herself as a skilled administrator. She is one of the first Nigerian women to obtain a PhD in mathematics. She was also the country’s first female vice-chancellor (University of Benin 1985-1991). She has 5 children and 9 grandchildren.

    EDUCATION/WORK EXPERIENCE:
    Professor Grace Alele-Williams attended the Government School in Warri, Queens College, Lagos, and the University College of Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan). After completing her undergraduate education, she became a mathematics teacher at Queen’s School, Ede Osun State, from 1954 until 1957. Dissatisfied with her situation at Queen’s School, Alele managed to obtain financial assistance from the Nigerian Head of Service to attend the University of Vermont as a graduate assistant with the goal of becoming a secondary school teacher. She found the weather in Vermont to be cold and also experienced forms of segregation in the rural setting. Soon, however, Sputnik shifted America’s attention to the importance of mathematics and education, and Alele had the opportunity to go to the University of Chicago, Columbia, or Harvard. She chose the University of Chicago, and in 1963 obtained her Ph.D. in mathematics education with a dissertation on “Dynamics of Education in the Birth of a New Nation: Case Study Of Nigeria.” Upon her return to Nigeria she became a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Ibadan. In 1965 she joined the faculty at the University of Lagos and was appointed a professor of mathematics in 1976 to becoming Nigeria’s first full female professor of mathematics.

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