The question of whether “women can have it all” has been particularly controversial since Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist book Lean In challenged the traditional notions of women making more room in their careers for raising a family. Now, Facebook and Apple are launching a new initiative to allow female employees to further focus on their careers and stay in the workforce longer by helping them delay parenthood: the companies will pay to freeze women's eggs. Facebook has already begun its program, while Apple will start in January. Facing a cost of $10,000 per round and $500 in storage fees each year, these Silicon Valley companies view their investments as a way to help bridge the gender gap in the competitive field of technology, according to NBC News.
Some argue that when women drop out of the workforce or go on maternity leave, the result is an increased pay gap and permanent damage to their salary in future years. Out of Apple’s 98,000 global employees, 70 percent are male, according to CNN, and Facebook is right behind at 69 percent male. The egg-freezing procedure has become increasingly popular among young women at the start of their careers – even if they don’t end up using them, there is comfort in knowing that the option is available. NBC says advocates of this new policy feel that “without the crushing pressure of a ticking biological clock, women have more freedom in making life choices.”
Yet the suggestion that women, by virtue of their reproductive abilities, should deliberately sacrifice their personal lives for their careers has drawn some backlash against Facebook and Apple’s new policy. Critics of the gender pay gap have long argued for a more even split in parental leave between mothers and fathers, since child labor is only a fraction of the problem (and much of the gap comes from taking off time to care for children in their early years). Whether or not freezing eggs is ultimately beneficial to women and their careers is yet to be determined, given that the technology is still relatively new. One thing that is certain is that women’s perspectives and concerns are becoming more influential in the decisions that companies and employers make as they realize the value of women in the workplace, and we're on board with that.