There was a time when a snooker table in the workplace was enough to entice would-be employees, but the offer from tech companies to cover the cost of egg freezing for female workers has upped the ante on the office perk.
Apple has become the latest Silicon Valley giant to appear to make it easier for women to focus on their careers and delay having children. From next January, it will follow in the steps of Facebook by offering to fund the cost of egg freezing procedures, which can cost up to €10,000 plus €500 per year to store the eggs.
Apple also operates an adoption assistance programme where it reimburses eligible expenses associated with the legal adoption of a child.
“We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families,” an Apple spokesperson said in an email.
However reaction to the offer is mixed, with some questioning Apple’s motivation.
Dr John Waterstone, medical director at the Cork Fertility Centre, said his concern was that egg freezing was not tremendously successful. He said research published in international journal Fertility and Sterility in 2013 showed the chance of a woman having a baby after having eggs frozen at age 25 was 31.5%. That reduced to 19.3% when the women was aged 35 at the time of the procedure.
“Offering to pay for egg freezing is almost encouraging women to delay having babies even further,” he said.
“Egg freezing is not a perfect science and there is a big chance the eggs won’t work. It is completely different to freezing sperm which is very robust and freezes well. Perhaps a more responsible approach would be to make it easier for women to have kids younger by allowing them take more time off and having more family-friendly policies.”
The medical director at Beacon CARE Fertility in Dublin, Dr Ahmed Omar, said they were seeing “more and more Irish women” enquiring about the option of egg freezing with the hope of preserving their future fertility.
“A barrier to preservation in the past has been financial, so the fact that employers are now considering funding employees as a benefit is very interesting and could open opportunities for more women,” he said.
Beacon egg freezing costs €3,000, which includes one year freezing and after that, €500 storage per year.
What Twitter had to say:
GFY Facebook and Apple. If you don’t want us to step away from our desks at 30, why will it be OK at 40? Stick your egg freezing in the bin.
Would much rather FB/Apple give me $20K towards a robot nanny— Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe) October 14, 2014
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