Rene Almeling is a professor of sociology at Yale University with research and teaching interests in gender and medicine. Using a range of qualitative, historical, and quantitative methods, she examines questions about how biological bodies and cultural norms interact to influence scientific knowledge, medical markets, and individual experiences. She is the author of Sex Cells, an award-winning book that offers an inside look at the American market for egg donors and sperm donors. Her new book, GUYnecology, examines why there is so little attention to men’s reproductive health and analyzes how this gap affects medical knowledge, health policy, and reproductive politics.
Professor Almeling has also conducted two original surveys, the first on Americans’ attitudes toward genetic risk (with political scientist Shana Kushner Gadarian) and the other on women’s bodily experiences of in vitro fertilization. With Sebastian Mohr, she is co-editor of a double special issue on “Men, Masculinities, and Reproduction” (2020). She has received funding for her research from the National Science Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her articles have appeared in American Sociological Review, Annual Review of Sociology, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Gender & Society. She is a recipient of the Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Research, one of Yale’s highest honors, and holds courtesy appointments in American Studies, the Yale School of Public Health (Department of Health Policy and Management), and the Yale School of Medicine (Section of the History of Medicine). During the 2019-20 academic year, she was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.
- Almeling, Rene. (2020). GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health. University of California Press.
For more than a century, the medical profession has made enormous efforts to understand and treat women’s reproductive bodies. But only recently have researchers begun to ask basic questions about how men’s health matters for reproductive outcomes, from miscarriage to childhood illness. What explains this gap in knowledge, and what are its consequences? Rene Almeling examines the production, circulation, and reception of biomedical knowledge about men’s reproductive health. From a failed nineteenth-century effort to launch a medical specialty called andrology to the contemporary science of paternal effects, there has been a lack of attention to the importance of men’s age, health, and exposures. Analyzing historical documents, media messages, and qualitative interviews, GUYnecology demonstrates how this non-knowledge shapes reproductive politics today.
- 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.
If you do not have free access to any of the following publications, please email me for an electronic copy.
- Almeling, Rene. 2019. “Contesting New Markets for Bodily Knowledge: When and How Experts Draw the Line” in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Body and Embodiment, edited by Natalie Boero and Katherine Mason.
- Pinar, Candas, Rene Almeling, and Shana Kushner Gadarian. 2018. “Does Genetic Risk for Common Adult Diseases Influence Reproductive Plans? Evidence from a National Survey Experiment in the United States.” Social Science and Medicine 218: 62-68.
- Almeling, Rene and Iris Willey. 2017. “Same Medicine, Different Reasons: Comparing Women’s Bodily Experiences of Producing Eggs for Pregnancy or for Profit.” Social Science and Medicine 188: 21-29.
- Andersson, Matthew A., Shana Kushner Gadarian, and Rene Almeling. 2017. “Does Educational Attainment Shape Reactions to Genetic Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease? Results from a National Survey Experiment.” Social Science and Medicine 180: 101-105.
- Almeling, Rene. 2015. “Reproduction.” Annual Review of Sociology. 41:423-442
- Almeling, Rene and Shana Gadarian. 2014. “Reacting to Genetic Risk: An Experimental Survey of Life between Health and Disease.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
- Almeling, Rene and Shana Gadarian. 2014. “Public Opinion on Policy Issues in Genetics and Genomics.” Genetics in Medicine (official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics). 16: 491-494.
- 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. 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
- SOCY 134, Sex and Gender in Society
- SOCY 390/629, Politics of Reproduction
- SOCY 523/WGSS 623b, Sociology of Sex and Gender
- Socy 592/WGSS 592 Qualitative Research Methods
- Program in the History of Science and Medicine
- Urban Ethnography Project
- Franklin College
- The Center for Comparative Research (CCR)
- Institution for Social and Policy Studies
- Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Yale
- Yale Women Faculty Forum (WFF)
National & International