Rene Almeling

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Yale University

About Rene

Almeling's research is at the intersection of gender, medicine, and economics, with a focus on reproductive and genetic technologies. She has written an award-winning book on the market for egg and sperm donors in the United States, and her current projects include a national survey of Americans’ attitudes toward genetic risk (with Shana Gadarian), an examination of direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies, and a survey of women's experiences with in vitro fertilization.


The Business of Egg and Sperm Donation

In the News

"Women Are Bombarded With Messages About Their Reproductive Health. Why Not Men?," Rene Almeling, Perspective, The Washington Post, June 16, 2021.
Rene Almeling quoted on surrogacy regulations by Gillian Wheatley and Sarah Galashan, "Paying Surrogates in Canada Could Present New Problems for Parents-To-Be, Experts Say" CBC News, April 24, 2018.
Rene Almeling quoted on the market for eggs and sperm by Katie O'Reilly, "Egged on: The Commodified Altruism of the Assisted-Reproduction Industry" Bitch Media, June 28, 2016.
"The CDC Risks Its Credibility with New Pregnancy Guidelines," Rene Almeling, Boston Globe, February 8, 2016.
Guest to discuss egg donation on Legal Broadcast Network, Rene Almeling, July 31, 2015.
Rene Almeling's research on people's reaction to hypothetical genetic risk discussed by Bess Connolly Martell, "‘Patients-in-Waiting’: Even the Perceived Risk of Disease Prompts Intention to Act," Yale News, December 3, 2014.
"Egg-Freezing a Better Deal for Companies Than for Women," Rene Almeling (with Joanna Radin and Sarah S. Richardson), CNN Opinion, October 20, 2014.
Rene Almeling's research on public opinion on DNA tests discussed by Register Staff, "Yale Study Shows Patients Want Help with At-Home DNA Tests," The Register Citizen, November 7, 2013.
Rene Almeling's research on the selling of eggs and sperm as a way for college students to fund their education discussed by Don Troop, "The Student Body, for Sale," Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2013.
Rene Almeling's research on compensation for egg donors discussed by Ruth Costas (article in Portuguese), "Beauty and Academic Qualifications Earn up to $50,000 in Controversial Egg Market," BBC Brasil, September 4, 2012.
Rene Almeling's research on ethics in egg and sperm markets discussed by Meredith Redick, "Selling Sex... Cells: Navigating the Ethics of the Sex Cell Market," Yale Scientific, April 22, 2012.
Rene Almeling's research on the intricacies of the fertility market discussed by "Get Your Free Sperm Here!," Freakonomics Blog, October 7, 2011.
"Baby Boom: What Happens When One Sperm Donor Has Dozens of Offspring?," Rene Almeling, Interview with Robin Young, NPR’s “Here and Now”, September 29, 2011.
Rene Almeling's research on the self-conceptions of sperm donors vs. egg donors discussed by Anna North, "Why Sperm Donors Say They’re Parents and Egg Donors Don’t," Jezebel, September 28, 2011.
"Sperm Donors Think ‘Father,’ Egg Donors Don’t Think ‘Mother’," Rene Almeling, Interview with Janice D’Arcy, The Washington Post, September 28, 2011.
"Secrets of the Sperm Bank," Rene Almeling, Interview with Mandy van Deven, Salon, September 25, 2011.
"Rene Almeling’s ‘Sex Cells’ Explores Marketing of Reproductive Donation," Rene Almeling, Interview with Katherine Brindley, The Huffington Post, September 20, 2011.


"Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm" (University of California Press, 2011).
Provides an inside look at how egg agencies and sperm banks do business. Shows how the gendered framing of paid donation, as either a job or a gift, not only influences the structure of the market for sex cells, but also profoundly affects the women and men whose genetic material is being purchased.
"Objectification, Standardization, and Commodification in Healthcare: A Conceptual Readjustment" (with Stefan Timmermans). Social Science and Medicine 69, no. 1 (2009): 21-27.
Provides a theoretical synthesis of emerging scholarship on the intended and unintended consequences of objectification, commodification, and standardization in healthcare. Outlines a research agenda for a more comprehensive assessment of how these processes manifest in clinical care.
"Fat in the Fire? Science, the News Media, and the 'Obesity Epidemic'" (with Abigail C. Saguy). Sociological Forum 23, no. 1 (2008): 53-83.
Examines the interconnected role of medical science and media reporting in how the obesity epidemic is framed as a social problem. Finds that news reports dramatize the issue more than scientific studies and are more likely to highlight individual blame for weight.
"Selling Genes, Selling Gender: Egg Agencies, Sperm Banks, and the Medical Market in Genetic Material" American Sociological Review 72, no. 3 (2007): 319-340.
Examines how egg agencies and sperm banks recruit, screen, and compensate women for eggs and men for sperm. Demonstrates that gendered cultural norms inspire more altruistic rhetoric in egg donation than sperm donation, producing a gendered market for sex cells in the United States.