Professor Writes Book on ‘African-Born Women Faculty

ASHLAND, Ohio –A new book by an Ashland University professor offers insight into the achievements and difficulties faced by African-born female faculty members. Dr. Rosaire Ifedi began research for “African-Born Women Faculty in the United States: Lives in Contradiction” as part of her doctoral dissertation.

Ifedi, assistant professor of education at AU, said the title refers to the success achieved by these women, but also the hurdles they must clear.

Dr. Rosaire Ifedi

“I found a very high level of success for the nine participants of the study,” Ifedi said. “Many had done very well. This was different from what I had expected to find from the literature on the topic.

“This study, underpinned by Black feminist thought, Africana feminism and critical race theory, investigates the lived experiences of African-born female professors in the United States. The findings reveal similar themes found in the literature on other Black and foreign women, but also offer new perspectives on racialization, double discrimination, difference, citizenship and scholarship.”

A native of Nigeria, Ifedi said she developed the idea for this line of research after conversations with other African-born faculty members often brought forward shared experiences.

“While it grew out of my dissertation, it’s a very readable book,” Ifedi said. “It could be used by anyone doing qualitative research or researching African-born women faculty, in particular, or women and immigrants in general. These women have very interesting lives and interesting stories to tell.

“One of the things that might be surprising to some people is that race and racial relationships in the United States don’t come out as a black-white issue,” Ifedi said. “Immigrants found that that they were discriminated against by both blacks and whites. Native-born blacks tended to challenge or look down on the immigrants, sometimes more than the whites did. Some immigrants found they were treated better by whites than by native-born blacks. Conversely, opportunities for collaboration exist across traditional racial divides and many African immigrants see themselves fulfilling such roles.”

Appointed as a full-time faculty member at AU’s Columbus Center this fall, Ifedi earned her bachelor of arts degree in education and her master of arts degree in English as a second language from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She then went on to earn an administrative principal certification and a doctor of education in educational leadership degree, both from Ashland University. Ifedi, who also has some correctional education experience with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, was previously an assistant professor of English at Central State University, and taught as an adjunct faculty member at AU’s Columbus Center.

Dr. Carla Edlefson, professor of education at AU, praised Ifedi’s work, saying, “For the first time, women born in Africa and teaching in American higher education have the opportunity to be heard in the scholarly literature, speaking about their life stories, their values, and their careers. Dr. Ifedi’s study provides grounding for new understandings of diversity and why it matters. Her theoretical contributions to the concepts of identity, racialization and difference are sure to provoke much additional discussion and inquiry.”

Dr. Frank W. Hale Jr., vice provost and professor emeritus at Ohio State University, said,

“There is nobody better qualified than Dr. Rosaire Ifeyinwa Ifedi to uncover what it is like to be an African-born female professor in U.S. Academia. [She] engagingly reveals how the racist morass traversed by the African female professors was a tangle of complexities that constrained and, at times, overpowered individual initiative. They learned to pass a growing battery of traditional expectations, while at the same time, not undermining their own cultural roots and sense of self-esteem.”

Published by Mellen Press, “African-Born Women Faculty in the United States: Lives in Contradiction” is available through the AU Bookstore, the publisher and internet book sources.

Ifedi resides in Columbus with her husband, Ifeanyichukwu Ifedi, and their children, Amaris, Chinedu, Imani and Chisom.

Ashland University is a private, comprehensive institution located in north central Ohio between Cleveland and Columbus. On-campus enrollment is nearly 2,150 undergraduate students while total enrollment, including graduate and off-campus centers, is more than 6,500.

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