lifestyle

If your boss would pay to freeze your eggs, would you do it?

Today, everyone’s talking about egg-freezing.

Because apparently, it’s the silver-bullet for women who want a big career in the glimmering, money-encrusted compounds of Silicon Valley.

Breaking new ground in the employee-perks department, Facebook and more recently, Apple, are offering to fund retrieving and freezing a woman’s eggs as part of her employee benefit scheme, effectively allowing women the chance to delay motherhood and focus on her career.

Wow, and here I was thinking that Google and their sleep pods were progressive…

Philip Chenette, a fertility specialist in San Francisco, spoke to NBC this week about the notoriously male-dominated Silicon Valley firms who were competing to attract top female talent.

“The coverage may give Apple and Facebook a leg up among the many women who devote key childbearing years to building careers. Covering egg freezing can be viewed as a type of “payback” for women’s commitment.”

When this topic came up for discussion in the Mamamia office this morning, we were pretty much split down the middle. Half were of the “What a great way to support women in the workplace” camp and the other half were of the “isn’t this just a trick to get women to work really, really hard through their child-bearing years,” persuasion.

With the cost of egg retrieval procedure being $10,000 (US) and annual storage, $500 (US) per year, Facebook and Apple have factored these costs into differently-defined benefit schemes but the one characteristic they both have in common is that they are incentivising NOT starting a family too young. With this incentive, Facebook and Apple are basically saying “we know that your eggs are at their healthiest at “X” time in your life, but we figure if we are able to help you put them on ice and as a result, turn off that internal ticking biological clock, you’ll be able to continue on your career path of choice.”

Egg-freezing advocate Brigitte Adams told NBC News

“The offer shows the Silicon Valley giants are investing in women and supporting their lifestyle choices.”

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An egg retrieval procedure costs around US$10,000.

 But there’s another concern. What happens if that woman decides to leave the company and then can’t afford to keep her eggs stored any longer? Or what if her attempts to conceive with the eggs, later on in life, don’t work?

And this: Is this just the big corporations playing God? Are Facebook and Apple simply saying that to have both a career and a family, is incompatible with the way their companies operate?

Alternatively, perhaps this can be seen as supporting women and supporting women’s choices in ways they’ve never had access to before. Are Apple and Facebook simply making an investment in what they believe in, or is this just upping the ante in what has become the race in Silicon Valley to offer the best lifestyle-related perks to hold on to their valued employees?

Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com was quoted in the article as saying that

“Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,” By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women, she said, and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.”

Does Mark Zuckerberg own your first born?

Other advocates went on to say that egg-freezing has been described as a key to “levelling the playing field” between men and women as without the crushing pressure of biology, women have more freedom in making life choices.

To me, it seems like a strange line to draw. The woman in me knows that I shouldn’t feel this way and the woman in me also can recognise that this option may give women something they’ve had far too little of in the past – a choice.

Yet, I can’t help but feel as if big business are giving women incentive to sacrifice their childbearing years in hope of a promotion.

Should big business be paying for women to freeze their eggs so they can dedicate themselves to their careers? Is this the way of the future and if so, how comfortable do you feel with it?

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