In commemoration of UNESCO’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we have considered it a pride to celebrate some of the outstanding Nigerian women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) who have made significant impacts in their various fields.
These women are just a few examples of the many talented and accomplished individuals in STEM in Nigeria.
They have made substantial contributions to their respective fields and serve as an inspiration to others.
In no particular order, here are five women making waves in STEM in Nigeria who have been randomly selected out of the plethora of others and their top achievement.
1. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an economist and international development expert currently serving as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She is the first woman and the first African to hold this position, where she plays a critical role in promoting free and fair trade among nations, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to her appointment at the WTO, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and as Managing Director of the World Bank, where she played a leading role in driving economic reforms, reducing poverty, and improving public financial management in developing countries. She is a respected leader and advocate for gender equality and has been recognized for her contributions to the global community through numerous awards, including the Forbes Africa Person of the Year Award and Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
2. Dr. Mrs. Ndidi Nwuneli
Dr. Mrs. Ndidi Nwuneli is a renowned expert in social innovation, African agriculture, entrepreneurship and youth development with over 25 years of international development experience. As a recognized serial entrepreneur, author, public speaker and consultant, Nwuneli is on the boards of several organizations, including LEAP Africa, Fairfax Africa Fund, DSM Sustainability Advisory Board, AGRA and Nigerian Breweries Plc. She was also a committee member on the Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership at the World Economic Forum from 2011 to 2014 and was appointed to the board of the Rockefeller Foundation in 2019. In her current role, Nwuneli is a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
In 2002, Nwuneli founded two non-profits, LEAP Africa and Ndu Ike Akunuba (NIA). While NIA focuses on female empowerment and inspiring university students in Southeastern Nigeria to live full and meaningful lives, LEAP Africa is a youth-focused leadership development nonprofit organization that provides training on leadership, ethics and civics. Nwuneli served as LEAP Africa’s founder and the chief executive officer from 2002 to 2007 and is still an active member of the organisation’s board. Through her work with LEAP Africa, Nwuneli has partnered with several organizations, including the Ford Foundation, Citi Foundation, World Bank, United States Government, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, ALI and Nokia, among others.
Dr. Alele’s impressive academic background includes a post-graduate degree in Space Studies and an MBA degree from the International Space University, Strasbourg, France. She is also listed as one of the top women in the African Space Industry and currently sits on the Honorary Board of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). In 2019, she was re-appointed for another four years by President Muhammadu Buhari, a testament to her expertise and contributions to the industry. Her goal is to witness NIGCOMSAT procure and launch satellites from Nigeria through an indigenous satellite manufacturing and launching agency/company.4. Prof. Olayinka Omigbodun
Professor Olayinka Omigbodun is a distinguished psychiatrist and academician who is recognized for her contributions to the field of Child and Youth Psychiatry and Mental Health. Her expertise in this area has been honed over the course of her illustrious career, which spans over three decades. Her research work has been instrumental in shedding light on the mental health challenges faced by children and adolescents in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries. Her contributions have laid the foundation for interventions in schools and the development of psychological interventions for children and adolescents with mental disorders. Her research on Women’s Mental Health and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is particularly noteworthy.
Currently, Professor Omigbodun serves as the Provost of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, a role she assumed in August 2020 for a four-year term. Prior to this, she was the pioneer director of the University’s MacArthur Foundation-funded Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Under her leadership, the center became a multidisciplinary hub for advocacy, training, research, and service in child and adolescent mental health. She has also served as the President of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) from 2010 to 2014, becoming the only African to have held this position since the organization’s inception in 1937. Professor Omigbodun’s contributions to the field have been recognized with numerous awards, including the African Leadership award in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, the International Contribution Award from IACAPAP, and the World Psychiatric Association Honorary Membership award.
5. Omolara Adagunodo
Omolara Adagunodo is a seasoned professional with a decade of experience across multiple industries. With a background in banking, utility and hospitality, she has a unique perspective that she brings to her role as Managing Director of Jumia Travel Nigeria & Ghana. After starting as a Management Trainee at Guaranty Trust Bank, Omolara relocated to the UK and held positions as a Customer Care Advisor and Communications & Change Lead at British Gas. She holds a degree in English from the University of Ado Ekiti and an Msc in Management from Manchester Metropolitan University Business School.
As one of the pioneer staff members at Jumia Travel, Omolara has played an instrumental role in the company’s growth. She started as Head of Customer Service and eventually became VP Business Development/ Customer Service for Jumia Travel. After serving in these positions for four years, she was promoted to the role of Country Manager of Jumia Travel Ghana. Now as Managing Director, Omolara continues to drive the success of Jumia Travel Nigeria & Ghana, utilizing her extensive experience and knowledge to lead the company to new heights.