Facebook and Apple are just two of the Silicon Valley giants who have announced a controversial scheme to contribute towards the cost of freezing female employees' eggs.
Along with existing perks like free meals and four months of maternity leave, Facebook will now be paying up to $20,000 to the 31% of its staff who are female to undergo ocyte-cryopreservation.
The tech giants hope that by offering female staff the chance to harvest their eggs while they’re young, that they will have more time to focus on their careers without worrying about the pressures offertility. Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, feminist-mother-of-two and author of “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”, would like her employees to not forfeit their career choices formotherhood.
The move has been both criticised and welcomed in the wake of a push for greater gender diversity a
nd equality in the workplace. Many of the arguments against the plans for workplaceegg-freezing focus on the work/life balance, which they suggest will result in women feeling pressured into freezing their eggs, just as office workers feel pressured to check emails at weekends or take less holiday time; saying the decision is less of a choice and more of an illusion. In addition to this, there is not a huge amount known about the success rate of older mothers who use their harvested eggs to conceive and making babies is rarely as straightforward as it seems.
On the plus side, there is no government-funded healthcare in the United States, meaning that most citizens rely on their employer to cover this. Facebook, Apple and Google are some of the few employers to offer benefits like fertility treatment, surrogate mothers for homosexual couples and sperm bank access. This is in addition to healthcare, free meals, four months of maternity leave, a sleeping area, free haircuts… the list goes on.