Mieke Aerts conducts research into the history of political action repertoires. Her main research question pertains to how the Netherlands has garnered a reputation of being relatively peaceful and non-violent. In this context, Aerts is primarily interested in the way in which political conflicts in the Netherlands have or have not arisen historically, and the choices made with respect to adopting confrontational or more accommodating political styles. Aerts devotes particular attention to the gender aspects of these kinds of political processes.
Aerts has written a number of influential programmatic articles on key concepts in gender studies and the need to examine gender from a historical perspective. She has also published on the history and political philosophy of feminism, the historical contribution of women to Dutch political culture and the way in which political repertoires are transferred between movements and across national borders.
Aerts began her academic career at the UvA, starting as a university lecturer of Social Sciences focusing on Women's Studies in 1980 and moving to Political Science in the mid-1990s. She became an independent researcher in 1998 and returned to the UvA in 2009, assuming the Wilhelmina Drucker chair as professor by special appointment of Political History of Gender.