Ipek Bakir On Double-Checking Emails and the Economics of Education

Noodle Expert Ipek Bakir tells us who her favorite businesswoman-who-posed-as-a-businessman is, why she'd send a student to Istanbul, and how she wound up studying the economics of education.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

Dame Stephanie "Steve" Shirley to teach me more about algebra, programming, how to create a startup, and how to take up philanthropy after retirement. I would also love to learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to navigating the business world with a male alias. I'd also like to ask her what she would do if she were starting her company now given the change in dynamics within the male-dominated business world.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

Compete with yourself and not with others.

Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?

Istanbul, Turkey. It's the city where west and east mingle and every corner reeks of history. A student traveling to Istanbul would be able to experience different religions, cultures, and economies all from one place.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

I used to spend endless hours writing an essay only skip out on proofreading the end product. After a pages of red marks and feedback from teachers, I now spend just as much time going over my writing as I spend drafting it. Even if it is a short email, a second look always helps.

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

I study the economics of education because it combines two things that I care very much about — data and human capital. I got into the field expecting to have to rely mostly on grade-centered, quantitative data, but was pleasantly surprised to see that behavioral economics and qualitative data are gaining increased attention and appreciation in educational decision-making.

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