With increasing career spans for the average person and the growing need for women in the workplace, the biological timetable for women to bear children is gradually being surpassed by career demands. Apple and Facebook, however, announced last week that they would offer coverage for female employees to freeze their eggs, in hopes of circumventing this reproductive glass ceiling.
This is a bold and positive move by top tech leaders intended to support women as they juggle the modern day conflict between work and family.
As women age, the number and vitality of their eggs decrease and the chances of complications with a pregnancy increase. Traditionally, women have forfeited careers early on in exchange for having a family for these reasons.
In many cases, when a woman chooses to put her professional life on indefinite hold to have children, she will endure trade-offs such as severe career setbacks and pay inequality.
Freezing eggs, in conjunction with in vitro fertilization, will help to bridge the gap between a woman’s reproductive prime and when she is realistically prepared to have children.
Ever since the American Society of Reproductive Medicine lifted the “experimental” label from egg freezing, some women have chosen to preserve their younger eggs in hopes of climbing the career ladder. While eggs on ice is a relatively new way of thinking about family planning, it should be more commonly accepted. Women should have the opportunity to build careers and a family on a timetable of their choosing rather than being dictated by biology.
This is a positive step for these tech companies because it helps alleviate the psychological panic many women suffer if they have yet to start a family.
While it seems that giving women the opportunity to more precisely map out the course of their lives can be nothing but positive, many people criticize Apple and Facebook for doing so. It has been said that this is a push to correct the issue of women leaving the workplace to have kids, thus forgoing biological advancement with biological tinkering.
What these people don’t seem to take into account is that women who want to work and forgo a family in the early stages of their career will do so regardless of whether they can freeze their eggs. They criticize women for being workaholics, but in reality that is a whole different beast. This is only giving a woman, especially an ambitious one, an option to have a healthier pregnancy later down the road if she so chooses.
Along those same lines, this coverage will ultimately save the companies money by not having to pay as many expensive infertility treatments down the road, which is a benefit mandated in 15 states, including Texas.
People carry insurance to ensure the longevity of their houses, their cars and their phones. Why shouldn’t they be able to ensure their chance at a reproductive future no matter how far off it may be?
While it may not be considered natural to have the ability to defer a pregnancy into the 40s, 50s and beyond, this is simply society’s way of adapting to the changes in the way it functions.
We should be applauding all the companies that do this and encourage more to join. Not only can it help the companies save money in the long run, it also helps to advance social and professional progress. By giving employees the opportunity to freeze their eggs and determine their family schedule on their own time, it makes it much easier for ambitious women to exist in the world we live in.