Ntombifuthi Si-zanne Mpila looks at recent developments by Tech companies who plan to pay for their female employees to freeze their eggs.
Personally, one of my worst fears is falling pregnant before I get my career off the ground. An unplanned baby can be very stressful to say the least! Family planning is thus extremely important. A possible consequence of an unplanned child could be Post-Natal/Post-Partum Depression (PND/PPD), where a mother is irritated by her baby and cannot bond with him/her. Don’t get me wrong, I love children and would be honoured to have children one day, but truth be told, they can be an obstacle in one’s career and life, if unprepared for. This issue recently came to the fore when it emerged that some companies are offering their version of a solution.
Tech companies Apple and Facebook have apparently offered to fund the freezing of eggs of female staff and I personally think that it’s great because it delays pregnancy until career-driven and ambitious women are ready to start a family. According to The Telegraph, offers of up to $20 000 (R221 600) have been made to female Facebook employees while Apple will begin their offers in January 2015.
Egg freezing (also known as oocyte cryopreservation) is basically a procedure that allows for the extraction and storage of a woman’s eggs. After this procedure, her eggs can be planted into her womb whenever she decides to have a child. As a result, she could fall pregnant in her late 30s and her 40s, when conceiving is usually more difficult for most women. Furthermore, to increase the chances of a successful later pregnancy, doctors usually advise a woman to extract approximately 20 eggs, which costs $20 000 (R221 600) in total.
As a whole, the egg-freezing procedure’s price ranges from $10 000 (R110 800) to $15 000 (R166 200) and it costs an annual fee of $1 000 (R11 800) to keep the harvested eggs frozen.
Apple says that it will pay up to $20 000 (R221 600) for the egg freezing and cover the storage costs of a woman’s eggs for both full and part-time employees.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a woman who undergoes egg freezing will conceive. In the United Kingdom, oocyte cryopreservation has only led to the birth of 20 babies. This is according to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Now, you may be asking yourself: “Why are these US tech giants doing this? What if some female employees do want children?” The fact is, nobody is being forced to freeze their eggs. The two companies have clarified that this procedure is an option for women who presently want to focus on their careers. Yes, their main goal is to ensure that they secure their most valuable female employees. At the end of the day, they are businesses and they have to make a profit.
However, this does not mean that Facebook and Apple are inconsiderate of employees who are ready to have children. Recently, Apple introduced extended parent leave for employees. Facebook also stated that it offered four months of paid maternity leave for new mothers, as well as paternity leave for new fathers.
So it appears the corporate world is not all bad. Some businesses value the wellbeing of their employees. Say whatever you want… I still think that Apple and Facebook have made a wise business move!