Facebook and Apple are offering women employees the chance to put their dreams of motherhood on ice – by paying for them to freeze their eggs.
- Silicon Valley giants willing to pay £12,500 a time to put eggs on ice
- According to NBC, Facebook has already started and Apple will in 2015
- One egg-freezing advocate said the move was ‘investing in women’
- But one academic warned employees may see babies as ‘incompatible’
The extraordinary perk is aimed at boosting the number of women staff by allowing them to focus on their careers without sacrificing the opportunity to have children later in life.
The Silicon Valley giants – the first major employers to offer the procedure for non-medical reasons – are willing to pay £12,500 a time to cover the cost of putting the eggs on ice plus an additional £300-a-year for deep freeze storage.
The eggs can then be planted into the patient’s uterus at time of her choosing when she may no longer be producing them naturally. According to NBC News, Facebook has begun paying for egg freezing and Apple will start in January.
Preserving eggs has been described as a key to ‘levelling the playing field’ in the male-dominated tech industry and a possible game-changer for women who have traditionally had to choose between their careers and starting a family at a time when their male counterparts are climbing the ladder. ‘Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,’ Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com, told NBC.
‘By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women and supporting them in carving out the lives they want,’ she added.
Paying for the procedure can be seen as rewarding women employees for their commitment, said San Francisco specialist Philip Chenette. Women who know they want children someday ‘can go on with their lives and know that they’ve done everything that they can’.
In the past year, fertility doctors in New York and San Francisco report that egg freezing cases have nearly doubled.
In a 2013 survey published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, a majority of patients who had their eggs frozen reported feeling ‘empowered.’
The fact that two of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are introducing the initiative is no coincidence. Tech giants are fighting for talented staff in what has become known as the ‘perk arms race’.
Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, in particular, is known for her pro-women stance.
The social media firm gives new parents £3,000 in so-called ‘baby cash’ to spend however they like. Both firms also offer generous wellness-orientated benefits to staff.
Critics say the move is simply a ploy to persuade women to stay with the company.
Last night an Apple source indicated the company had no plans to extend the policy to the firm’s UK workforce.
An Apple spokesman in the US said: ‘We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.’
However Harvard Law School academic Glenn Cohen, asked: ‘Would potential female associates [staff] welcome this option knowing that they can work hard early on and still reproduce, if they so desire, later on?
‘Or would they take this as a signal that the firm thinks that working there as an associate and pregnancy are incompatible?’
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