When Facebook and Apple announced their willingness to pay for their employees’ egg freezing, the initial reaction was shock. While some employees will no doubt take part in preserving their future fertility, for the most part, the consensus of this broadcast remains quite mixed.
In the Los Angeles Times, reporter, Karin Klein, questioned whether or not this is a work perk.
Her introduction pretty much says it all.
“It’s generous indeed for Facebook and Apple to extend their benefits to include egg freezing for women who want to put off child-bearing. And it might be exactly what some women want. But it’s also a sign of how poorly the U.S. workplace has responded to the needs of families,” she writes.
Klien highlighted that under these new benefits, female employees will collect up to $20,000 for the process.
She goes on to say that egg freezing is no longer considered an experimental procedure. In the same breath, she continues it’s an elective treatment and is not really recommended by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Before the egg retrieval process, a woman must be on a series of hormones prior to the surgery, and sometimes, a short hospital stay is recommended.
Klien writes, “Still, an increasing number of women are expected to want this option. The question is whether they want it because that’s their preference in how their lives unfold, or whether they, as well as men, feel that there is little option if they want to be parents, but also want to succeed at their jobs.” She continues, “The American workplace, especially the realm of high-powered jobs, is particularly hostile to the family. Longer work hours are demanded, weekends are consumed and paid vacations are much shorter than in many other developed nations.”
And Klien is right.
In the Atlantic, reporter, Rebecca J. Rosenjun, reveals some jaw-dropping statistics in reference to maternity leave policies. In her article, WHY NOT HELP FAMILIES? A Map of Maternity Leave Policies Around the World, uncovers staggering information.
“If you’re a woman working in the United States and your employer provides paid maternity leave, consider yourself lucky: Just 11 percent of Americans employed by private industry have access to some sort of paid family leave. For state and government employees, 16 percent can take paid family leave,” Rosenjun reports. “The U.S. federal government provides no paid family leave to its employees, though they can use their sick days or vacation days that they’ve saved up. This state of affairs places America in a very small group: countries that neither provide new parents with some sort of Social Security-esque benefit nor require that businesses pay their employees even a portion of their normal salaries.”
We offer little, if no support for families. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great thing that Apple and Facebook are bringing fertility to the front of the news, but what’s really needed is genuine support for families with job security after a woman has her baby and is ready to return back to her position at the office.
What’s the use of “egg freezing” when our nation, as a whole, ignores the needs of families?
Another writer taking a jab at this announcement, Kristin Maschka from Huffington Post, listed her thoughts in the piece, “Apple, Facebook and the Absurdity of an Egg Freezing Benefit.”
According to Maschka’s commentary, women have two career choices: have a company freeze their eggs or a company makes internal changes enabling women to have children, care for her family and still have a thriving career.
She writes, “The egg-freezing strategy means that Apple and Facebook are also saying ‘It’s up to each woman to plan her way through her work life. If she doesn’t, then too bad, it’s her fault.’” She continues, “All of this implies women can simply plan and choose our way through today’s work life challenges — marry the right guy, don’t lean back, choose a family friendly career, have kids early, have kids late, freeze your eggs, just ask for flexibility — and all of it actually prevents us from taking effective actions to change our workplaces and our public policies.”
Then there’s another buzz about this topic.
In the high tech fields, it’s younger employees who are in demand since they are on the cutting edge. Tech companies are making an investment in its youthful employees, and by offering to freeze their eggs, they perhaps are insuring their investment for longer staying power. And when the thirty and forty-something-years arrive for the “first round of childbearing,” a new generation of graduate students will enter the corporate doors.
It’s something to think about.