Grace Alele Williams


place: Nigeria

Ph.D. Mathematics Education (1963) University of Chicago
thesis: ; advisor:

area of degree:


Grace Alele Williams received her education at Queens College in Lagos, University College at Ibadan, and the University of Vermont, before receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Chicago in 1963. She made history as the first Nigerian woman to be awarded a doctorate. She returned to Nigeria for a couple of years' postdoctoral work at the University of Ibadan before joining the faculty of the University of Lagos in 1965.

Dr. Williams' ongoing interest in mathematics education was originally sparked by her stay in the US, which coincided with the Sputnik phenomenon. Working with the African Mathematics Program in Newton, Massachusetts, under the leadership of MIT professor Ted Martins, she participated in mathematics workshops held in various African cities from 1963 to 1975. Highlights included writing texts and correspondence courses covering basic concepts in mathematics, working in concert with leading mathematicians and educators. She taught at the University of Lagos from 1965 to 1985, and spent a decade directing the Institute of Education, which introduced innovative non degree programmes, with many of the certificate recipients older women working as elementary school teachers.

Appointed the first female Vice Chancellor of a Nigerian university in 1985, Professor Williams believes her appointment at the University of Benin, which ended in 1992, was a test case to demonstrate a women's executive capability. She is now Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Lagos. Among her honors are those of Fellow of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria and of the Nigerian Academy of Education; Merit Award Winner of Bendel State in Nigeria; and Regional Vice President for Africa of the Third World Organization for Women in Science" (Science in Africa: Women Leading from Strength AAAS, Washington, 1993, p.174). It may be added that Professor Williams is also the Chairwoman of AMUCWMA, the African Mathematical Union Commission for Women in Mathematics.

DR. Grace Alele Williams is also a Vice President and member of the Executive board of The Third World Organization for Women in Science (TWOWS).

Among Williams' papers related to the African Mathematics Program are the following:

The Entebbe Mathematics Project, in: International Review of education, UNESCO, Hamburg, 17, No. 2, 1971, 210-214

Dynamics of curriculum change in mathematics: Lagos State Mathematics Project, in: West African Journal of Education, 18, No. 2, 1974, 241-253

The development of a modern mathematics curriculum in Africa, in: Arithmetic Teacher, No. 4, 1976, 254-261

Reference: [AMUCHMA12]

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