Alumni Spotlight: Aslı E. Mert, Assistant Professor, Koç University

Alumni Spotlight: Aslı E. Mert, Assistant Professor, Koç University

Aslı E. Mert studied an MSc and a DPhil at the Department between 2007 and 2015, where her research focused on gender segregation patterns in Turkey. She is now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Koç University.


Image of Aslı E. Mert
What inspired you to study sociology?

I was initially inspired to study sociology to understand societal problems and how one can contribute to solutions by examining the deep-seated patterns through research.

I have always been more interested in the potential practical implications that research could offer, along with the relationship between sociological research and its direct reflections in societies. 

Tell us about your research while at Oxford:

My DPhil thesis focused on gender segregation in the household and labour market in Turkey since the 1980s.

Through the analyses of various data sets in the Turkish context, I examined the vertical and horizontal gender segregation patterns in paid work and the gendered structures in the private sphere mainly based on domestic division of labour, separately and in relation to each other.

Furthermore, I critically discussed the laws and policies related to women’s position at home and in the job market in Turkey. 

Aslı Mert stands in a garden, wearing Sub Fusc before her Matriculation ceremony.

Aslı before her Matriculation Ceremony in 2007

What's your favourite memory of Oxford?

There are many great memories I have from Oxford. To name a few: end of exam celebrations, good times spent with friends during hectic periods, cultural events I frequently attended (so many opportunities: classical music concerts, musicals, and all), and definitely experiencing the beautiful, magical city. 


What do you do now?

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, the Vice Director of the Gender Studies Center, and an affiliated scholar of the UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development at Koç University in Turkey.

I teach various classes including quantitative methodology at undergraduate and graduate level, and work on mainly the topics of gender, employment, and happiness/wellbeing through predominantly undertaking survey research.

In addition, I collaborate with private institutions and public entities to provide training and consultation regarding gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace. 

In 2020, I was thrilled to receive the British Council Alumni Award in the “Entrepreneurial Category” as an alumna of the University of Oxford, for my initiatives on gender equality in the Turkish labour market.

I have been taking part in various research projects granted by national and international funding bodies as a researcher and principal investigator.

What lessons did you learn from studying sociology at Oxford? 

Studying at Oxford has taught me to look for the right questions before the answers.

The methodological diversity in the Department enriched the ways in which I understand different social phenomena while shaping my interest in survey research - which benefits the students I transfer this knowledge to, alongside my own research, to this day.

What piece of advice would you give to prospective students?

I would recommend students to find their passion in research by recognising that the knowledge and experiences they gain during their degree can potentially shape and change their interests and the way they approach these issues - trusting the process is key!

In addition, I would highly advise them to benefit from all the invaluable learning opportunities at Oxford, for example, by attending different theoretical and methodological courses, learning new skills by taking courses from the IT Learning Centre, or improving their writing skills with the support of instructors at The Language Centre. 

You can get in contact with Aslı here.
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