Why Are Facebook, Apple Paying for Women to Freeze Their Eggs?

3 years ago

Today, Mashable reported that Facebook and Apple have both put policies into place to pay for a woman to freeze her eggs, effectively allowing her to delay having a child.

Is this a boon? Or a creepy suggestion about how to succeed in the fast-paced, hyper-competitive world of tech?

Facebook adopted its policy in January of this year, and NBC News reports that Apple just announced it.

Petri dish with fertilized eggs, Shutterstock

Egg freezing works best when eggs are young, before their fertility starts to decline. The optimal age is 27, according to a 2002 study by European researchers. The study's findings lowered the age recommendation from early to mid 30s, a range that is still supported by The Center for Fertility Preservation.

No doubt, this is a fantastic benefit to offer women, as egg freezing can cost between $10,000 and $20,000, according to Jezebel. But does it imply that early pregnancy is something to be avoided? Or that early pregnancy will be frowned upon?

Or hey, what if you sign up for egg freezing, and then have a "whoops" pregnancy, as 37 percent of American women do?

Granted, only 17 percent of women with a college degree have unintended pregnancies, so maybe Facebook and Apple feel that their employees are a wiser investment risk.

But the fact remains that college-educated women are both marrying later and having babies later, at average ages of 27 and 30. That's right up against those years that eggs start their decline.

(Disclosure/file under FYI: I had my son at the age of 34, after an unassisted pregnancy, having delayed childbirth for 10 years after marrying. Apparently, I was acting just like the college-educated woman I am.)

So, what do you think? Is this an awesome new benefit that takes into account the fact that a woman's ability to control her fertility has a huge influence on the trajectory of her career?

Or is it a slightly creepy intervention by the male-dominated power structure in Silicon Valley, and a suggestive reminder that our gender is still seen as a liability?

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