Breaking barriers : pioneer women elite at University College, Ibadan, 1948–1960




Finley, Mackenzie Jean

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Between 1948 and 1960, less than one hundred women attended Nigeria’s first degree-granting university, then called University College, Ibadan. Women’s access to the school was dictated by both their class and gender. Conversely, women’s access to an elite education impacted conceptions of class and gender. In terms of class formation, the university setting reinforced the distinction between elite and the everyday woman in Nigeria. With regards to gender ideology, the colonial university became a site of epistemological confluence where women mediated multiple and shifting expectations of womanhood. This paper highlights the lives and work of some of these women pioneers at University College, Ibadan. It begins to trace the nature of the spaces in which the women operated and the people with whom they may have come into contact. These experiences and encounters shaped the lives of the women themselves, as well as impacting the nature of women’s leadership in early independent Nigeria. Ultimately, the women’s time at University College, Ibadan, facilitated a changing relationship between elite womanhood and knowledge production on the eve of Nigerian independence.



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