Science Communication Hub Nigeria

Olanike Adeyemo: Breaking Through The Glass-Ceiling

Currently Deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Ibadan, her track is full of premieres as a female scientist in Nigeria.


Professor Samuel Adewumi Agbede; “who guided me gently without attempting to make a clone of himself out of me”.


Aquatic Epidemiology & Toxicology

Breaking through the “glass-ceiling”

Very few women have distinguished themselves in the field of science, particularly in Africa where the enrollments of women into the science career has been an uphill battle. Women in science seem to find it difficult to achieve academic excellence, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, due to cultural bias that impedes acceleration. Professor Olanike Adeyemo is a three times alumni of the University of Ibadan and also a distinguished academic icon in the field of science. She is an epitome of doggedness and true hard work. Full of prodigious ideas and passionate about science, her story can be summarized in one sentence. “Science happened to me, but my passion is what kept my love for science burning”.

Born on 17th July 1970,  for young Adeyemo her parents were exemplary, insisted on schooling because they believed the best way to empower a child was through education, they also provided a level playing field for their children, regardless of gender. Brilliant Adeyemo (nee Salami) studied sciences in secondary school due to her excellent academic performance. She went on to study Veterinary Medicine at the University. Thus, she became the first female graduate in the family. This marked the beginning of her career in scientific research and gave her the opportunity to spread her wings. Due to her love for science and research, Adeyemo chose to study Veterinary Public Health and is the first woman to have a Doctorate (PhD) in Aquatic Epidemiology & Toxicology and subsequently Consultant in the field of Aquatic Veterinary Medicine in Nigeria. Adeyemo rose rapidly through the ranks to become the first female professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, University of Ibadan.

Professor Adeyemo is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, innovation and strategic partnerships) University of Ibadan, the first person ever to hold such a position in the history of the University. For the past one year, she has worked assiduously and demonstrated strong leadership qualities. She has continued to deliver in her duties, facilitated research collaborations between the various research groups in the University and academic institutions (in Africa, Europe and America), Governmental Agencies, Industries and non-governmental organizations. Through her mettlesome character, she has improved access to grants writing for research funding worth over 2,000,000 USD.

Professor Adeyemo is the first female Nigerian veterinarian to become a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science and the African Academy of Science. She has published over 106 research articles (presented many papers worldwide and have supervised 28 undergraduate projects, 22 postgraduate dissertations and thesis. She is happily married to Biodun Adeyemo, a Pharmacist and the marriage is blessed with 3 boys and a girl.

The hurdles

Scientific research in Nigeria is tedious due to poor infrastructure and access to cutting-edge research tools. Paltry funding for carrying out nationally relevant research and conference attendance makes being a Nigerian researcher more challenging. Lack of formal mentoring and Inherent cultural barriers are also a challenge for females in academia.

Advise to young female scientists

Excellence and Integrity will earn you the respect you deserve. Set goals, work hard and stay focused.

This post has first been published on Science Communication Hub Nigeria.


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