Rosanna Hertz

Rosanna Hertz is the Class of 1919 50th Reunion Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College. She is currently the Chair of WGST.


Hertz is known for her research on the intersection of families, work and gender. For the past 25 years, she has focused on the emergence of new family forms and how they expand our understanding of kinship. She is especially interested in how the Internet is revolutionizing the choices for people as they enter into third-party reproduction arrangements and creating new possibilities for connection. Her 2006 book, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice captured popular attention with its finding that the age-old desire for motherhood was in fact reinforced by new scientific advances in reproduction. Her new book, Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings and the Creation of New Kin, with her coauthor Margaret K. Nelson, is a moving account of the unprecedented families formed by sperm donor siblings and the remarkable relationships that emerge out of the human desire for identity and intimacy. A new set of complexities emerge as donor siblings attempt to expand our understanding of kinship. (Oxford University Press 2019).


As the former editor of Qualitative Sociology, Hertz has a long-standing interest in social science methodology. This includes new conventions in data collection and ethnographic writing. Hertz received her PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Most recently she has held appointments at Harvard’s Law School in the Petrie-Flom Center and at the Brocher Foundation in Switzerland.