Stockholm university

Malin Ah-King

About me

I am an evolutionary biologist and gender researcher (Associate Professor in Gender Studies). Since I received my PhD in Zoology, Stockholm University, I have worked with interdisciplinary gender/biology research in different ways, by problematizing notions of biological sex as binary and stable, highlighting gender stereotypes and heteronormative conceptions in theory and research. Since 2017 I focus on feminist science studies of sexual selection research.

Research interests

Feminist science studies and gender/queer perspectives on biology.


My current project “The Ontological Controversy over Sex Differences – a science study of evolutionary biology 1982-2018” is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. In public debates biology is often used to assert essential sex differences – yet, evolutionary biologists themselves disagree over sex differences and their causes. This project aims at understanding how and why this controversy over sex differences emerged. 

An earlier project “The ‘Female Turn’ in Evolutionary Biology – a science study of shifting canonical knowledge 1980-2000” explored how the international evolutionary research community shifted perceptions of females in evolutionary biology. The project was financed by the Swedish Research Council and resulted in the book The Female Turn, How Evolutionary Science Shifted Perceptions About Females (Palgrave MacMillan 2022) and the article "The history of sexual selection research provides insights as to why females are still understudied" (Nature Communications 13, 6976 (2022)).

Previously, I have, for example, together with Professor Sören Nylin, Stockholm University, explored the variation in gender and sexuality in different organisms and how it changed over time, and developed a theoretical framework for understanding the biological sex as dynamic and changing over time and in relation to environmental factors.

The Agency for Higher Education and the National Secretariat for Gender Research commissioned me to write the book “Gender Perspectives on Biology”, now used as course literature.

I have written a critical analysis of a highly acclaimed study of sex-differences in toy preferences in vervet monkeys. Another analysis concerns biology textbooks and how they explain animal sexual behavior.

“Toxic sexes-perverting pollution and queering hormone disruption” is an analysis of media coverage of endocrine-disrupting pollutants that I wrote with Eva Hayward, University of Arizona.

In collaboration with Professor Patricia Gowaty, UCLA, I have conducted an overview of variation in mate choice among animals, in relation to new theory of evolution.

I have collaborated with Andrew Barron and Professor Marie Herberstein, Macquarie University, to examine current research on genital evolution showing that this research is still male biased, though the degree of bias depends on which hypothesis as well as which animal group was investigated.

Together with Professor Ingrid Ahnesjö I examined and criticized how the term “sex roles” is used in research on animal behavior, and wrote an article in Tidskrift för genusvetenskap (the Swedish Journal of Gender Studies) about what we can learn from biology research on “sex roles”.

I have strived to be active in both biological and gender research, therefore I have shifted between both biological and gender research departments – the Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Biology, Macquarie University, Australia. I have also held courses on gender/queer perspectives on biology at two universities in Germany, the Centre for gender and future studies, University of Marburg, and at the Department of history, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, as well as a PhD-course on Gender & Biological Sciences at Stockholm University.

Selected publications

(many are available for downloading here:

Ah-King, M. 2022. The Female Turn how evolutionary science shifted perceptions about females. Palgrave Macmillan.

Ah-King, M. 2022. The history of sexual selection research provides insights as to why females are still understudied. Nature Communications 13, 6976 (2022).

Ah-King, M & Gowaty, P. A. 2016. A conceptual review of mate choice: stochastic demography, within-sex phenotypic plasticity, and individual flexibility. Ecology and Evolution 6 (14) 4607–4642, DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2197

Ah-King, M. & Gowaty, P.A. 2015. Reaction norms of sex and adaptive individual flexibility in reproductive decisions. In: Hoquet, T. (ed.) Current Perspectives on Sexual Selection: What's left after Darwin? Springer.

Ah-King, M., Barron, A. & Herberstein, M.E. 2014. Genital evolution: why are females still understudied? PLOS Biology 12 (5) e1001851.

Ah-King, M. & Hayward, E. 2014. Toxic sexes — Perverting pollution and queering hormone disruption. O-zone: A Journal of Object-Oriented Studies 1:1-12.

Ah-King, M. 2014. Genderperspektiven in der Biologie. [Gender perspectives on Biology] German translation of Genusperspektiv på biologi published by Marburg University.

Ah-King, M. 2013. Queering animal sexual behavior in biology textbooks. Confero: Essays on Education, Philosophy and Politics 1(2): 46-89.

Ah-King, M. & Ahnesjö, I. 2013. The sex-role concept: a review and evaluation. Evolutionary Biology 40:461–470.

Powell, S. & Ah-King, M. 2013. A case study of integrating gender perspectives on teaching and subject content at a natural science university in Sweden. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology 5 (1): 52-61.

Ah-King, M. 2013. On anisogamy and the evolution of “sex roles”. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28 (1): 1-2.

Ah-King, M. 2012. Genusperspektiv på biologi. [Gender perspectives on Biology] A book published by the Agency for Higher Education in collaboration with the National Secretariat of Gender Research, in a series on gender perspectives on different subject areas.

Barron, A., Ah-King, M. & Herberstein, M. E. 2011. Plenty of sex, but no sexuality in biology undergraduate curricula. Bioessays 33 (12), 899–902.

Ah-King, M. 2011. Biologins paradox: föränderliga kön och rigida normer. [The paradox of biology: flexible sexes and rigid norms.] Lambda Nordica 4: 26-52.

Ah-King, M. & Nylin, S. 2010. Sex in an evolutionary perspective: just another reaction norm. Evolutionary Biology 37:234–246.

Ah-King, M. 2010. Flexible mate choice. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, Elsevier. Edited by Janice Moore and Michael D. Breed.

Ah-King, M. 2009. Toy story – en vetenskaplig kritik av forskning om apors leksakspreferenser. [Toy story – a scientific critique of research on toy preference in primates.] Tidskrift för genusvetenskap, 2-3: 45-63.

Ah-King, M. 2009. Queer Nature, towards a non-normative perspective on biological diversity. In: J. Bromseth, L. Folkmarson Käll and K. Mattsson (eds.) Body Claims. Crossroads of Knowledge, Department of Gender Research, Uppsala University.

Ah-King, M. 2007. Sexual Selection revisited – towards a gender-neutral theory and practise. European Journal of Women’s Studies 14:4, 341-348.

Research projects