In my research and teaching, I focus on issues associated with gender and medicine. Using a wide 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, a national survey of attitudes toward genetic risk (with Shana Gadarian), an article for the Annual Review of Sociology on “The Sociology of Reproduction,” and a new book project on the history of men’s health. I teach introductory and advanced courses on gender, genetic testing, and reproduction.
- Almeling, Rene. (2011). Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm. University of California Press.
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.
- 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.
- American Journal of Sociology
- Choice Reviews Online
- Contemporary Sociology
- Gender & Society
- Genre, Sexualité and Société
- The New Atlantis
- World Medical and Health Policy.
(If you do not have free access to any of the following publications, please email me for an electronic copy.)
- Almeling, Rene and Miranda Waggoner. 2013. “More and Less than Equal: How Men Figure in the Reproductive Equation.” Gender & Society 27:821-842.
- Almeling, Rene and Shana Gadarian. 2013. “Public Opinion on Policy Issues in Genetics and Genomics.” Genetics in Medicine (official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics).
- Almeling, Rene. 2009 “Gender and the Value of Bodily Goods: Commodification in Egg and Sperm Donation.” Law and Contemporary Problems 72: 37-58.
- Timmermans, Stefan and Rene Almeling. 2009 “Objectification, Standardization, and Commodification in Healthcare: A Conceptual Readjustment.” Social Science and Medicine 69: 21-27.
- Saguy, Abigail C. and Rene Almeling. 2008. “Fat in the Fire? Science, the News Media, and the ‘Obesity Epidemic.’” Sociological Forum 23: 53-83.
- Almeling, Rene. 2007. “Selling Genes, Selling Gender: Egg Agencies, Sperm Banks, and the Medical Market in Genetic Material.” American Sociological Review 72: 319-340.
- Almeling, Rene. 2006. “Why do you want to be a donor?”: Gender and the Production of Altruism in Egg and Sperm Donation.” New Genetics and Society 25: 143-157.
- Almeling, Rene, Laureen Tews, and Susan Dudley. 2000. “Abortion Training in U.S. Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Programs, 1998.” Family Planning Perspectives 32: 268-271, 320.
Courses and Seminars
- SOCY134b/WGSS 110b, Sex and Gender in Society
- SOCY311, Gender, Race, and Genetic Testing
- SOCY523/WGSS 623b, Sociology of Sex and Gender
- The Center for Comparative Research (CCR)
- The Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course (CIQLE)
- Concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies
- Institution for Social and Policy Studies
- Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Yale
- Yale Women Faculty Forum (WFF)
National & International
OpEds, Media, etc.
Follow me on Twitter @ralmeling.
- Radio interview with Virginia Prescott: “The Hazards of an Unregulated Sperm Industry” New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth, December 10, 2013
- New article with Miranda Waggoner on men and reproduction mentioned in Sarah Elizabeth Richards’ “Men’s Fertility Should Be Scrutinized Too,” TIME Ideas, December 10, 2013.
- Research with Miranda Waggoner featured in Jessica Grose’s “Hooray for This New Study That Says Women Shouldn’t Be the Only Ones Responsible for Making Healthy Babies,” Slate, December 3, 2013.
- Research on sperm donation featured in Rachel Cromidas’ “Sperm Donation Gains Visibility through Pop Culture” Chicago Tribune’s RedEye, December 3, 2013.
- OpEd on the “The Unregulated Sperm Industry,” The New York Times, Sunday, December 1, 2013.
- New article with Shana Gadarian on public opinion regarding genetic testing covered by Healio, HealthDay, Science Daily, CDC’s Genomics & Health Impact Update, NIH’s Medline Plus, and HHS’s Womenshealth.Gov, November 2013.
- Blogpost on “Sex Cells: The Gender-Divided Market for Eggs and Sperm,” PBS Newshour’s Making Sen$e, November 29, 2013.
- Research on sperm donation featured in Eliana Dockterman’s “’Delivery Man’: 9 Sperm Donation Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask,” TIME, November 22, 2013.
- Research on egg and sperm donation discussed in Don Troop’s “The Student Body, for Sale,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2013.
- Research on egg donation mentioned in Ruth Costas’s “Beauty and Academic Qualifications: Earn up to $50,000 in Controversial Egg Market,” BBC Brasil, September 4, 2012.
- Research on sperm donation featured in Anneli Rufus’ “One Man Fathering 150 Children? Why Sperm Banks May Be Unethical,” Alternet, October 11, 2011.
- Research on the market for sperm mentioned in ”Get Your Free Sperm Here!“ Freakonomics Blog, October 7, 2011.
- Podcast on Sex Cells: “A Conversation with Rene Almeling,” Yale University, October 3, 2011.
- Research on sperm donor motivations mentioned in Tony Dokoupil’s ”You Got Your Sperm Where?“ Newsweek, October 2, 2011.
- Radio interview with Robin Young: “Baby Boom: What Happens When One Sperm Donor Has Dozens of Offspring?” National Public Radio’s “Here and Now,” September 29, 2011.
- Interview on Sex Cells with Janice D’Arcy: “Sperm Donors Think ‘Father,’ Egg Donors Don’t Think ‘Mother’,” The Washington Post’s On Parenting Blog, September 28, 2011.
- Research on egg and sperm donation featured in Anna North’s “Why Sperm Donors Say They’re Parents and Egg Donors Don’t,” Jezebel, September 28, 2011.
- Interview on Sex Cells with Mandy Van Deven: “Secrets of the Sperm Bank,” Salon, September 25, 2011.
- Interview on Sex Cells with Katherine Brindley, ”Rene Almeling’s ‘Sex Cells’ Explores Marketing of Reproductive Donation,” The Huffington Post, September 20, 2011.