Rene Almeling

Rene Almeling's picture
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Ph.D., Sociology, UCLA, 2008;
M.A., Sociology, UCLA, 2003;
B.A., Gender Studies and Religious Studies, Rice University, 1998
Areas of Interest: 
Gender; Medicine; Markets; Reproductive Technologies; Genetics.
493 College St, Room 309
Phone number: 

In my research and teaching, I focus on issues associated with gender and medicine. Using a range of qualitative, historical, and quantitative methods, I examine questions about how biological bodies and cultural norms interact to influence biomedical knowledge, medical markets, and individual experiences. My first book, Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm (University of California Press, 2011), received awards from the American Sociological Association and the American Anthropological Association. In 2013, I was honored to receive the Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Research, one of Yale’s highest honors.

My current research projects include a survey of women’s experiences with in vitro fertilization (IVF), a national survey of American attitudes toward genetic risk (with Shana Gadarian), and a comparative survey of sperm donors in France and the United States (collaborative with a team of French researchers).  I am also working on a new book, tentatively titled Guynecology: Men, Medical Knowledge, and Reproduction, which examines the history of medical knowledge-making about men’s reproduction and its consequences for individual men.


Unimaginable until the twentieth century, the clinical practice of transferring eggs and sperm from body to body is now the basis of a bustling market. In Sex Cells, Rene Almeling provides an inside look at how egg agencies and sperm banks do business. Although both men and women are usually drawn to donation for financial reasons, Almeling finds that clinics encourage sperm donors to think of the payments as remuneration for an easy “job.” Women receive more money but are urged to regard egg donation in feminine terms, as the ultimate “gift” from one woman to another. Sex Cells shows how the gendered framing of paid donation, as either a job or a gift, not only influences the structure of the market, but also profoundly affects the individuals whose genetic material is being purchased.

Read the Introduction >>


  • Diana Forsythe Prize – American Anthropological Association
  • Best Book Award –  Body and Embodiment Section of the American Sociological Association
  • Honorable Mention for the Best Book Award – Sex and Gender Section of the American Sociological Association
  • Roberta G. Simmons Outstanding Dissertation Award – Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.



If you do not have free access to any of the following publications, please email me for an electronic copy.

Courses and Seminars

  • SOCY 134b/WGSS 110b, Sex and Gender in Society
  • SOCY 390/629, Politics of Reproduction
  • SOCY 311, Gender, Race, and Genetic Testing
  • SOCY 491 Senior Essay for Nonintensive Majors
  • SOCY 523/WGSS 623b, Sociology of Sex and Gender


National & International

OpEds & Media

Follow me on Twitter @ralmeling.