If you’re a career women working for some of the hottest tech companies in the world, you may just have the option to freeze your eggs now and think about thawing them later. Oh, and by eggs, we mean the ones in your ovaries of course.
Facebook implemented it’s oocyte cryopreservation (that’s egg-freezing to you) scheme in January this year, but with Apple about to follow suit the topic has been making serious waves. The aim of the program is to allow female employees to freeze healthy eggs while they are available so they can focus on their career without worrying about diminishing rates of fertility. And then if and when broodiness calls later in life: boom, the eggs are there ready for defrosting. With the procedure costing up to £6300 plus egg storage fees of around £300 a year (because even a frozen egg needs a nest) it’s an unusual and pricey perk.
Given the hefty cost and the mere fact that we’re talking about putting your eggs in a freezer, it’s not exactly a surprise the internet has been experiencing a mini melt-down over the matter. However, beneath all the pro and anti-egg hysteria lies a few home truths and considerations I’d like to add.
It’s all scrambled
There have been some valid concerns raised regarding the ramifications of this strange and perhaps slightly creepy health benefit. Some have suggested it will pressure female employees into delaying family plans and vilify those who choose to ditch the treatment, either because they plan to start a family au naturel or perhaps they just don’t care for 2 weeks of discomfort and egg-vasion.
Personally, I am not convinced I would be willing to go through the uncomfortable and weird procedure just to show my boss I am a committed team player. And in a world where I am mostly sceptical about businesses motivation for generous behaviour, I am not quite persuaded that’s what Facebook & Apple are going for here. Undeniably, there is increased pressure to have female representation and diversity within these companies and they are scrambling to find the best talent out of a limited pool. As with any business perk (even one as bizarre as this) the aim is of course to improve the bottom line. That’s the whole point.
Sunny side up or down
This is one of those subjects where there will never be a perfect for or against argument. The way I see it is this can be whittled down to a matter of choice. And for whatever sinister or saintly reason, women who work within these companies will have the luxury of a choice worth £12500.
The fact is that egg quality drops starkly after 35, which forces women to drop out of the workplace at pivotal times in their careers. This can leave female employees returning from maternity leave struggling to catch up in salary and seniority. As our life expectancy in the western world grows we still face the same biological limitations we did 500 years ago.
Freezing eggs, no matter how zany it may sound gives women another option. Perhaps it’s a way of hedging your bets, a safety net or maybe it fits perfectly with your plan. Whatever your reason to use the programme (or not), it provides just a little more freedom to an otherwise fairly inflexible issue.