Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Charles C. Warfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Walter L. Burt

Third Advisor

Dr. Gabriel M. Jiabana


Discrepancies between males and females in access to schooling, school completion rates, and participation in employment opportunities are still more the norm in some regions of the world than others. Limited access to education plagues women in Nigeria as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa. Disparity in access to educational opportunity is a pressing gender equity issue in Nigeria (World Bank, 2003).

Relatively few studies have focused on obtaining the viewpoints of women who experience this phenomenon. To hear the voices of these women regarding how they gained or were denied access to education in the Nigerian context, a cross-section of 24 (12 educated and 12 nonliterate) Nigerian women were recruited for this phenomenological qualitative study. While 12 of them were college professors currently in teaching positions at three different universities, 12 others were nonliterate, self-employed women. Purposefully selected, the participants were representative of the three major ethnic groups and of the geopolitical character of Nigeria.

Review of relevant literature focused on the three historical moments in Nigerian education and how they played out with other sociocultural factors to affect women's participation in education.

The primary method for collecting data was individual, face-to-face in-depth interviews. Utilizing the phenomenological approach, the interviews focused on "generating useful information about lived experience and its meanings, as well as to understand how, through experience, the phenomenon being studied appears to the consciousness of the participant" (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003).

Significant themes that emerged for the nonliterate participants indicated that lack of information of the value of education on the part of parents, early marriage, and culturalcapital on males over females accounted for denial of access to education. For the educated, family background, men's perception of educated women as a threat, and emotional support from significant others were important factors. A cross-sectional theme that emerged revealed that traditional education was still highly regarded today, but incomplete without formal education. Surprisingly, religion was not a barrier to women education in this study. Other findings and implications for practice and research were discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access