Rene Almeling

Rene Almeling's picture
Associate Professor of Sociology and, by courtesy, American Studies, Public Health, and Medicine
Ph.D., Sociology, UCLA, 2008
B.A., Gender Studies and Religious Studies, Rice University, 1998
Areas of Interest: 
Gender; Health and Medicine; Reproduction; Genetics; Markets; Multi-method Research
493 College Street, Room 406
Phone number: 

Rene Almeling is a sociologist 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 second book, GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health, will be published by the University of California Press in August 2020. In it, she argues that the historical lack of biomedical attention to men’s reproductive health has profound implications for contemporary 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 IVF. 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 ReviewAnnual Review of SociologyJournal 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). More information is available at



  • 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.

Read the Introduction >>


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 311, Gender, Race, and Genetic Testing
  • SOCY 390/629, Politics of Reproduction


  • SOCY 523/WGSS 623b, Sociology of Sex and Gender



National & International


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