It's been revealed that Apple and Facebook offer individual female employees up to $20,000 in support should they wish to freeze their eggs in order to focus on their careers. Forward-thinking feminist move, or dystopian perpetual-work nightmare? I really can't decide.
Facebook's policy is already open, while Apple will introduce the option to workers next year. Still a relatively new process, freezing eggs allows women to have them stored for up to ten years, past the most fertile years of their lives (between 20 and 35 years old). They can then be thawed and fertilised with sperm, allowing a woman to conceive at an age when it may otherwise be difficult.
On one hand, it allows female employees greater control over both their careers and family planning. For senior Silicon Valley staff, a pregnancy (and the maternity leave that follows) can slow career progression and reinforce the "glass-ceiling" of a male dominated industry. Egg freezing would allow them to spend more of their most fertile years in the office, letting companies eke out the investment they have made in a worker, and giving the employee peace of mind that they can go back and start a family later in life.
On the other hand, it also reinforces a negative culture of over-working, and suggests that it isn't acceptable to consider starting a family earlier in life -- that work and family life in Silicon Valley are inherently incompatible. Perhaps investing in more flexible childcare options would be more useful, and potentially cheaper too. [NBC]
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