Facebook and Apple Will Pay for Female Employees to Freeze Their Eggs

In the most recent manifestation of–patriarchy and advanced capitalism intersect to absurd and tragic effect, Facebook and Apple will cover the cost for female employees of freezing their eggs.  Let’s put aside the questions of whether individual women working at those companies or in tech more generally will benefit from this policy shift for now.

Instead, let us just take a moment to ponder the meaning of such a policy given the unreasonable pressures that women face to be (a) mothers and (b) workers.  This policy maintains the illusion that it is possible for women to both be mothers and also to “lean in” to the corporate ladder, without addressing some of the much bigger structural constraints working women face, like the cost of child care.  (Not surprisingly, Facebook, despite all of its employee perks, does not offer any on-site childcare, because the cost is too high.)

And this policy does not fundamentally challenge the patriarchal notion that a woman’s worth and identity is dependent on her ability to reproduce.  If anything, it affirms the importance of “women as mothers,” while also affirming the importance of “women as corporate employees.”  The choice presented is binary–reproductive labor or productive labor.  Here, it seems like Apple and Facebook have figured out how women (lucky us!) can have it all . . . to their great benefit.

Indeed, my biggest complaint about Lean In and the dominant work/life balance discourse is the lack of consideration for time that is neither productive nor reproductive.  What about the time for pleasure, and art, and activism?  I suppose those will never come in the form of a “perk.”

5 Responses to “Facebook and Apple Will Pay for Female Employees to Freeze Their Eggs”

  1. Serene

    I also what the effects of policies like this will be on women who continue to have children before their mid-to-late 30s. Since putting it off will now be viewed as an easy choice to make, will having children in 20s and 30s now start to look like even more like a poor decision, motivated by “lack of commitment”to the company?

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  2. LiJia

    Yes, I agree that is a very real concern–that the baseline will shift such that putting off childbirth to later (read: less productive?) years is the norm and female employees who do not choose to partake delaying their childbearing will be penalized.

    Reply
  3. Emily

    I completely agree with this post and the comments. As someone who is considering egg freezing and is also terrified of the cost, I was initially thrilled to see companies stepping up their female benefits game. However, I totally agree with the comments that this is a disturbing norm to set. A similar (albeit much more trivial) corollary is the free meal “perk” – it seems great at first, but looses appeal when you realize you’re expected to stay there 14 hours a day.

    Overall it takes way more than money to empower and integrate female employees in male dominated tech companies. I also have issues with the Lean In camp, in addition to the very valid complaint mentioned in this post, it in many ways supports women by encouraging them to be more like men. Paying women to not let childbirth get in the way of work is not the ideal solution to female career progression.

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  4. Eileen

    This is disturbing on so many levels. Freezing ovums is not an easy thing to do. We don’t just come in a cup. It’s an invasive procedure with serious medical risks. And it’s not something recommended for healthy young women who don’t suffer from fertility issues. It also dictates at what age women should become mothers. This ignores the health risks associated with pregnancy for older first time mothers. Also, freezing your eggs doesn’t guarantee future healthy pregnancies. What a violent concept to a rather simple problem (on-site child care).

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