Dr Asiya Islam


I am a sociologist with an interest in gender, class, and work. Prior to joining Leeds, I was based at the University of Cambridge. My PhD (2015-19, University of Cambridge), funded by the Gates Cambridge scholarship, ethnographically explored the experiences of young lower-middle-class women in service work in Delhi, India. Following the PhD, I was appointed Fellow (2019-22) at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, where I developed a new (and ongoing) project on gender and the future of work in India. Previously I studied for MSc in Gender, Media, and Culture (2009-10) and worked as an equality and diversity adviser (2010-15) at the London School of Economics. I also sporadically worked as a freelance journalist between 2010 and 2015. My undergraduate degree in English and Women’s Studies is from Aligarh Muslim University, India.

Research interests

I am broadly interested in gender and class dynamics in emerging forms of work (largely service work and now increasingly work driven by the use of digital technology), in other words, in evolving gender, class, and work relations. In studying work, I closely interrogate the definition, classification, and value of work; as such, my research includes under- and un-paid forms of work, such as domestic work, care work, and the work of preparing for work. My research practice espouses principles of feminist research – I pay attention to the power differentials between the ‘researcher’ and the ‘researched’, I consider research participants to be the experts, and I try to develop meaningful relationships with the research participants.

My research expertise is primarily in India. Since 2016, I have been engaged in long-term ethnographic research with young lower-middle-class women in service work (cafes, call centres, shopping malls, offices) in Delhi. More recently I have been conducting survey and diary research to explore gender differences in digital literacy, access, and use across urban and rural settings in India (Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar). My upcoming project, sponsored by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant, is on women’s experiences of working-from-home during the Covid-19 pandemic in infrastructure-deficient settings in Delhi, India.


  • PhD in Sociology, University of Cambridge
  • MSc in Gender, Media, and Culture (London School of Economics)
  • BA (Hons) Communicative English (Aligarh Muslim University)

Professional memberships

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Student education

In 2021-22, I am module leader for –

  • LUBS3002 Diversity Management (UG)
  • LUBS3095 Global and comparative perspectives on HRM (UG)

I am also contributing to teaching on –

  • LUBS5365M Diversity Management (PG)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change