Thursday, April 30, 2020
12:00 – 1:15pm
Rachel Carson College 301
Book cover for Rene Almeling’s GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health (University of California Press, forthcoming)
The average American has yet to encounter new information about the importance of “healthy sperm” and the “male biological clock.” That is because basic medical knowledge about how men matter when it comes to reproductive outcomes, from miscarriages to childhood illnesses, has only recently begun to be produced. This gap in knowledge about men is only more glaring when one considers the enormous efforts to understand and treat women’s reproductive bodies over the past century. What took so long? Why are biomedical researchers only now asking questions about how men’s age and bodily health affect reproductive outcomes?
Weaving together historical materials and qualitative interviews, Almeling examines the history of medical knowledge-making about men’s reproductive health and its consequences for individuals. From a failed nineteenth-century effort to launch a medical specialty called andrology to the contemporary science of paternal effects, she argues that a lack of medical specialization around men’s reproductive bodies resulted in obliviousness about men’s role in reproductive outcomes. Sifting through media messages and analyzing the stories of individual men and women, GUYnecology demonstrates how this historical gap in attention shapes reproductive politics today.
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 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 is a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.
Hosted by the Sociology Department
Co-Sponsored by the Science & Justice Research Center