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Kenyan women who broke the glass ceiling and excelled academically

Achieving Woman
 Kenyan women PhD holders

It is evident that efforts made to empower the girl child are bearing fruit. Many more women are now pursuing higher education with some reaching the highest levels of academia.

Below are six women who have set the bar high by excelling in the academic world.

 Professor Peninah Aloo-Obudho (Photo: Courtesy)

Prof Peninah Aloo-Obudho

Professor of Zoology Peninah Aloo-Obudho has held many top positions most recently of which is as the Chairperson of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute.

Prior to this, the mother of four was an associate professor, Department of Zoology, University of Nairobi before proceeding to Karatina University as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic, Research & Student Affairs).

 Dr Purity Ngina, PhD (Photo: Courtesy)

Dr Purity Ngina

At 28, Purity Ngina graduated with a PhD in Biomathematics from Strathmore University. She was, at the time of her graduation (2016), the youngest Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduate.

Dr Ngina was brought up singlehandedly by her late mother who encouraged her daughter to do well in her studies. Her academic life began on a low note when she first scored 235 out of 500 points in her KCPE before resitting the exam and scoring 369 out of 500 points.

She is currently a lecturer at Strathmore University.

 Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote (Photo: Courtesy)

Prof Patricia Kameri-Mbote

Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Nairobi (UoN), a published author and a champion of women’s rights among many other accomplishments.

She attained her PhD from Stanford University where she studied on a Fulbright Scholarship.

Her appointment as Associate Professor of Law in 2005 made her the first Kenyan woman to hold that position.

She was part of the team that set up Strathmore Law School. In 2012 she became a full professor and later dean at UoN.

 Professor Rose Mwonya

Prof Rose Mwonya

In 2016 Professor Rose Mwonya was famously elected the first female Vice Chancellor of Egerton University. She holds a PhD in Home Economics education from Iowa State University, Iowa, USA.

Before her appointment to Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mwonya was the Dean of Students. Among her greatest accomplishments while at Egerton is as chair of the Department of Agriculture and Home Economics and a founding director of the Centre for Women Studies and Gender Analysis.

The mother of four is passionate about the youth, so much so that she also started a peer counselling programme and culture week at the university.

 Dr Fridah Mokaya (Photo: Courtesy)

Dr Fridah Mokaya

Dr Fridah Mokaya holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics from the University of Connecticut. She is the first Kenyan woman and the first black woman worldwide to hold a doctorate in that field.

Dr Mokaya had her daughter while pursuing her PhD but she didn’t let this slow her down. She managed to balance motherhood, being a wife and pursuing her studies. The outcome is evident.

 Professor Sheila Okoth (Photo: Courtesy)

Prof Sheila Okoth

Professor Sheila Okoth is University of Nairobi’s first female professor of Mycology, which is the study of fungi.

She is an associate professor at the School of Biological Sciences, the same university which awarded her her PhD. An accomplished author, she has written for numerous publications

Among her many accomplishments, the mother of four was, in 2007, elected a member of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences. She was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, London, UK.

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