I come from a family divided by tradition and progression. On my mother’s side I was born into convention; to find a deserving husband and start a family. On my father’s side, I was taught by my Grandmother to challenge stereotypes in a society steeped in expectation.
Mum, I’m sorry if you’re reading this, but the idea of having a child fills me with impending doom. Why would I sabotage my chances of landing my dream job by falling pregnant?
So with the news that international powerhouses like Facebook and Apple are offering to front the cost of elective egg freezing, it’s no surprise that I’m firmly behind the move.
A process by which women surgically preserve healthy eggs on ice until they wish to start the fertilisation procedure, it’s a controversial topic and one that forces us to question whether a woman remains restricted in the workplace by her womb. Conversely, could this company backing help shatter the ‘glass ceiling’?
By the time a woman reaches puberty, her egg count will already be reduced by half. By the age of thirty, just an eighth of those eggs remain. So is it surprising that by thirty my mother assumes my theoretical offspring will already be on solid foods? I think so.
I am unapologetically what you would call a ‘career girl’ – with aspirations to climb the editorial ranks, I want a legacy. But establishing my career takes time and dedication, so I put my love life on the back-burner. My ambition is an upward battle against my dwindling eggs and, aged 23, my lofty ambitions will be nowhere near fulfilled in seven short years. And why should I have to compromise on this?
I’m all too aware that with age my feelings toward motherhood will adapt. Regardless, it’s inherently unfair that my life is predicted by a biological timescale.
Just a few weeks ago, news broke that Isabelle Kocher – former chief operating officer of energy company Engie – was named as chief executive of one of France’s largest public companies; the first woman to ever hold this prestigious position. Albeit impressive, the fact this story was even newsworthy proves that misogyny in the workplace is still palpable and reinforces the fact that most professional women are restricted, rarely surpassing such career goals. And why does this glass ceiling exist? Because a woman’s career is often interrupted by her fragile body clock.
Speaking on the company perk, a spokesperson at Apple said, “We continue to expand our benefits for women, with cryopreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive support for infertility treatments… We want to empower women.”
As a colossal profit generator, it’s easy to cast doubt on Apple’s motives. We’d like to naively believe they have our well-being in mind, but the very nature of a business casts doubt on good intentions. Like any major firm, their motive is money. But then again, the process of freezing eggs costs nearly £7000 – that’s a huge individual investment.
I understand that putting your eggs on ice isn’t for everyone. I don’t have to look far to find friends and family whose desires are answered by motherhood and not the workplace.
In fact, I’m relentlessly paralleled to my cousin, who at twenty-four, surrendered her career for parenthood. Perhaps these workplace limitations exist not because of society’s expectations, but because of a timely and natural urge to reproduce. Thus, one could
argue that this company backing is undermining a woman’s right to a personal life – pressuring them into a career unblemished by maternity leave and dependents.
However, I disagree. I’m not trying to undermine those who want to settle down but I personally endorse the move, giving women the freedom to start a family at their own pace, should they decide to.
Discussing business-backed egg storage with a friend over green tea, she winced at the idea, seeing their involvement in such a personal affair as vulgar. Which, in a way, I suppose it is. But as an advocate that I’m more than just a reproductive system, maybe this controversial move is exactly what we need to challenge gender role stereotypes. It finally puts us in the driving seat, giving us the opportunity to accomplish life aspirations without compromising delayed desires to start a family.
With more and more companies now writing the procedure into their benefit schemes, hopefully the taboo of female fertility will disintegrate. And perhaps if more employers followed suit with Facebook and Apple, my mum would stop pestering me for grandchildren, knowing my eggs were somewhat insured.
Images via Giphy.