19 October 2014

Freezing eggs as a job perk? Really??

 
I was utterly astonished with the news that Facebook and Apple would be offering the possibility of women to freeze their eggs as a job perk. Newspapers as the Telepgraph and Independent were dominated by headlines that were covering this announcement the past week. This is by far the worst idea ever that could arise from Silicon Valley. But I should not be surprised about it really. What better way for women to become even manlier at work than to get their motherhood postponed? That’s one less concern to companies about women becoming mothers. And one more concern to women, that clearly see that becoming a mother is not well received within companies (do we really need more evidence of this?), what other reason for this so –called perk?

 I am also reading about many opinions thatdefend this perk offer, claiming that it supports women in both keeping their jobs and their motherhood choices open, that it’s an investment in women from companies . However, I think this is exactly the opposite. And before this possibility was even considered, why not improving the work conditions by opening crèches, or offering bonus that contribute to nursery payments? 

Becoming a parent is still just an issue towards mothers, and not fathers. Of course only woman become pregnant, and only women can breastfeed (why not develop some research about man lactating?) but in long term parenthood affects both mothers and fathers, but in the work environment mothers are more affected than fathers. Women are more prone to sacrifice their careers when having children. I understand this completely, as after having my baby my priorities changed completely, as my little one will always come first.  Adding to this perspective there’s staggering evidence that suggests a gender gap in young professionals in the corporate sectors, which is largely associated with motherhood. We find similar results in academia, where women have more difficulties in securing grants, due to several reasons but mostly related with motherhood and sustaining a family.

However, freezing eggs is not a miraculous solution to solve this and this procedure should not be used lightly. Biologically speaking, a late pregnancy may have issues not only related with older eggs, but also due to the female body that is not longer at its most favourable time. And not to mention the risks involved with the eggs removal procedure, or its consequences. And even with your eggs frozen there’s no guarantee that there´s a successful insemination. 

Don´t misunderstand me, I believe that this procedure is a breakthrough to solve many infertility issues. I also advocate it to women who wish to do so to secure their chances of motherhood! My major issue with this as job perk is the underlying notion that becoming a mother is a nuisance at work. Companies would prefer you to postpone it. Or better, skip it altogether (maybe the perk would even include a surrogate bonus, so the pregnancy would be avoided) if possible. 

The bottom line is that we have a long way to go level the field in terms of equality at work between man and women, particularly when it comes to parenthood, where it is clear than mothers are more affected than fathers. There’s a long way to go in terms of support to maternity in the work environment. This matter should not be tackled lightly, and there are no easy solutions as the matter is extremely complex. But seeing this matter addressed in a responsible and well thought manor in a major company would be, at least for me, a major job perk.  

Inequality at work either at the corporate or academia environment is the norm. We still live in a man ruled world after all.

 

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