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Apple and Facebook will pay for female employees to freeze their eggs

On the list of perks you’d like your employer to pay for, freezing your eggs probably isn’t at the top.

But that’s exactly what female employees at Apple and Facebook are being offered.

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A video posted on Facebook by a Dublin mum-of-two who has spoken out about being the victim of an abusive relationship  has gone viral on the internet

A video posted on Facebook by a Dublin mum-of-two who has spoken out about being the victim of an abusive relationship has gone viral on the internet

A video posted on Facebook by a Dublin mum-of-two who has spoken out about being the victim of an abusive relationship has gone viral on the internet

The Silicon Valley companies are offering up to $20,000 (€15,800) to help cover the cost of putting their fertility on ice.

The idea is to ensure that women who want to focus on their careers aren’t sacrificing their chance to have a family.

Facebook is already covering the procedure for women in the US, while Apple will begin in January 2015, a spokesperson told NBC News, which reports that “the firms appear to be the first major employers to offer this coverage for non-medical reasons”.

Egg freezing (or oocyte cryopreservation) allows a woman to have her eggs extracted and stored. They can then be planted into her uterus at a later time, meaning she can become pregnant at a time when her fertility might otherwise have prevented it.

But the process comes at a price and $20,000 might not stretch far. Each round of freezing can cost half that amount, plus hundreds of dollars for storage. Doctors often recommend that a woman have around 20 eggs extracted, which can mean two costly sessions.

And, of course, there’s no guarantee that it will eventually lead to a pregnancy. In the UK, just 20 babies have so far been born from frozen eggs, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Egg freezing has been described as the latest bid in the Silicon Valley ‘perks arms race’, which sees employees lavished with health and wellness benefits to keep them fit and encourage loyalty. Apple and Facebook already offer options for fertility treatment and adoption. While Facebook hands new parents $4,000 (£2,500) ‘baby cash’.

Fertility treatments in particular are seen as helping to ‘level the playing field’ for female employees – something that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has long campaigned for. It seems designed to give women the option to 'pause' their chance to have a family, at a time when they (and their male counterparts) are advancing their careers.

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The policy – if adopted widely – could also have a knock-on effect on the gender pay imbalance. Recent research found that, while women in their twenties earn roughly the same as men, during their ‘child-bearing’ years a gap begins to appear.

A CMI report showed the pay difference between women and men widens with age, with women in their forties earning more than a third less than men. For those ages 20 to 25 the gap is just six per cent.

While a study from the Office of National Statistics stated that the gender pay gap effectively doesn’t exist between the ages of 18 and 39. Between the ages of 22 and 29, women marginally out earn men. Men's wages only begin to outstrip women in the years after most people have children.

Silicon Valley is famously male-orientated, with few women in prominent positions of power.


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