So the latest addition to employee benefits of Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook is they will pay for you to freeze your eggs (the body not the breakfast kind!). The idea behind this is that after climbing an extensive career ladder, women can delay taking a maternity break yet still have young and healthy reproductive cells waiting for them at the end. Doesn’t that sound just perfect! No? Well there’s been a very mixed response to the decision.
There has been great debate in the medical field over egg freezing. 25 is seen as the prime age for carrying out the procedure, but it is a long, painful one and many doctors object to the idea of inflicting this upon young women- with the result not necessarily being a baby. Other medical professionals have drawn concern over the fact that although the eggs will be young in the future, women’s bodies will not and many health issues could still crop up. However, from experience my mum had my sister at 45 and both are happy and healthy, so this isn’t always the case!
Dr. Dawn Harper (embarrassing bodies) said that although the technology has vastly improved over recent years, there is no guarantee that the eggs will successfully fertilise 10/15 years down the line. Additionally, she points out that although companies are providing the costs of the treatment itself, there is a high annual maintenance cost for every year a woman chooses to store the eggs which is not being covered.
Other arguments have arisen over whether or not the process actually helps promote equality in the workplace. Sure, it’s great to say that you can put off pregnancy, but maternity leave is still the plan for women who freeze their eggs. So why wait? Many people interpret this as the companies saying “we want to boost the numbers of females in the work force- but only young ones in their prime, they can go away when they get old.” Charming view huh? Perhaps instead there should be a call for increased acceptance of maternity leave in the workplace, and a feeling of security that women can return to their positions after a year off with no complications- or even to encourage the extension of paternity leave to a year if the father chooses to stay at home.
Personally, although I agree with some of the above points, it’s not all that bad. I do think that if companies are going to demand a long winded, ladder climbing process to get to top positions, I think it’s only fair that they offer this treatment for women who want it- as long as is it not forced upon those women who don’t want it! There has to be the option to be a successful career women and young mother without feeling that freezing their eggs is expected of them. But you have to wonder we moving further away from female equality in the work place rather closer? And even more importantly, are we jeopardizing the health of the next generation purely so that this generation can put in more hours at office? All these contentious questions aside it is fair to say that in this ever changing and slightly crazy world we live in egg freezing through the workplace could perhaps become the norm… stranger things have definitely happened!