Apple has announced they are going to offer free elective egg freezing to their female employees, allowing them to delay parenting.
Facebook already started offering this ‘perk’ in January of this year. Apple plans to introduce it in January 2015.
Egg freezing is not typically covered by an employer's health insurance. Facebook and Apple are both covering costs of egg freezing up to NZ$25,000.
The technology of freezing eggs has only become mainstream in the past couple of years. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine stopped calling egg freezing ‘experimental’ just two years ago.
With giants like Apple and Facebook offering the service, could it become a standard extra for female employees in the tech sector?
With the wide gender gap in the tech sector, the perk is being seen as a positive development, allowing female employees to put off having a child until they feel ready to take the time off, levelling the playing field for women.
However the revelation have got people wondering if Apple and Facebook are putting more pressure on women to keep working and put off having children.
On the other hand, Apple’s offer also includes IVF, which, if successful, could result in female employees leaving their jobs earlier than if they hadn’t tried IVF.
Apple, which vies with Facebook, Google and others for the top engineering talent, also provides 12 weeks of maternity or paternity leave. Facebook offers 16 weeks.
The move may help Apple and Facebook recruit and retain more women in their workforce.
Warwick Business School Professor of Human Resource Management James Hayton says “of all industries, the tech sector suffers particularly severely from a gender imbalance. Women make up only 26 percent of professionals in the computer and information field”.
He says it is not surprising that the most innovative of tech firms are seeking ways that will directly help them attract talented women.
Hayton says the costs of the perk appear to be moderate. “The positive PR will pay for itself by signalling these employers' values to prospective female employees.”