Facebook and Apple have decided to foot the bill for any female staff that would like to freeze their eggs. This procedure allows one to have children in their later years, without gambling with the increasing risks of infertility and birth abnormalities that come with middle age. By preserving these eggs in their healthiest condition, one is able to push back motherhood in order to focus on her career.
About 1 in 3 women over the age of 35 have fertility problems. With older age also comes a higher possibility of miscarriage and genetic irregularity. Naturally, these statistics can be frightening to a hopeful mother approaching her mid-thirties. As the years tick by, the pressure to prematurely rush into motherhood—perhaps with the wrong partner, or at the wrong time—begins to set in.
The alleged intent of the egg-freezing offer is to give women more choice in the baby-making department, although the incentive of a significant decrease in paid maternity leave could also have something to do with it. At Facebook, maternity leave is a maximum of 4 months. The proposition isn’t entirely surprising though, in the age of individual pursuit, achieving personal success often takes precedence to building (or maintaining) a family. It would appear to be an attractive offer for many.
The process of freezing a woman’s eggs necessitates that the eggs are actually removed from her uterus, frozen and stored, so that they can be reinserted years later in their original healthy state. The typical cost of this amounts to approximately $10,000 per procedure, and an additional $500 annually for storage. Apple and Facebook have offered up to $20,000 for female staff who would like to take advantage of this procedure.
Of course, not everyone is psyched about the postponed pregnancy proposition. Carolyn Leighton, founder of WITI (Women in Technology International), has certainly shared some harsh words on the topic. She sees this as a step backwards, not forwards in the women’s liberation movement. In a Business Insider interview, Leighton dismissed the idea as “insulting” and “ridiculous”, stating she felt “they were just trying to deflect the conversation about equal pay for women,”
Although being given 20,000 dollars with the promise of reproductive liberation may sound appealing on the surface, there are definitely some things that need to be considered. If this were to become a popular, and eventually standardized practice, what would happen to women who opted for the more natural route, respecting their biological life cycle? Could they be forced out of work for not accepting this “mutually beneficial” opportunity? Would maternity leave shrink even further? Would abortion rates among career committed females rise? Or worse, could they become normalized in the workplace?
I guess what I’m trying to get at here, is there needs to be discussion beyond the dollar sign.