Rene Almeling

Rene Almeling's picture
Professor of Sociology and, by courtesy, American Studies; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Public Health; and Medicine
Ph.D., Sociology, UCLA, 2008
B.A., Gender Studies and Religious Studies, Rice University, 1998
Areas of Interest: 
Health and Medicine, Gender, Reproduction, Genetics, Science and Technology, Knowledge
493 College Street
Phone number: 


Rene Almeling is Professor of Sociology at Yale University. Her primary research and teaching interests are in gender, medicine, and reproduction. 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. 

Professor Almeling is the author of two award-winning books: Sex Cells offers an inside look at the American market for egg and sperm donors, and GUYnecology examines the causes and consequences of inattention to male reproductive health. She has conducted two original surveys, the first on Americans’ attitudes toward genetic risk (with political scientist Shana Kushner Gadarian), and the second on women’s bodily experiences of in vitro fertilization. She is co-editor of two volumes, the first on “Men, Masculinities, and Reproduction” with sociologist Sebastian Mohr, and the second on Sperm | Health | Politics with bioethicist Lisa Campo-Engelstein and physician Brian T. Nguyen (under contract). Her essays have appeared in the New York TimesWashington Post, Boston Globe, and Elle.

Professor Almeling’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. At Yale, she holds courtesy appointments in American Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Institution for Social and Policy Research, the School of Public Health, and the School of Medicine.


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.       

Read the Introduction>>                                                                                                                                                                                         

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 >>

Edited Volumes

  • Almeling, Rene, Lisa Campo-Engelstein, and Brian T. Nguyen, co-editors. Sperm | Health | Politics. Under contract with New York University Press.  

  • Almeling, Rene and Sebastian Mohr, co-editors. 2020. Double special issue on “Men, Masculinities, and Reproduction.NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies. Vol 15: numbers 3-4.


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

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



National & International