What's the weirdest employee perk you can think of? Tech companies are known for them: keg parties, entire cafeterias, day trips to wineries, on-site laundry, and more. But freezing a female employee's eggs for purposes of future fertility is a new one. According to NBC News, Apple and Facebook are the first two major employers to offer this perk for non-medical reasons.
But the perk isn't without controversy. While some might see companies doing what they can to empower women to choose to have a high-powered career now, and a family later than what otherwise might be possible naturally, others see an ulterior motive: squeezing more work out of women now, while providing a fertility treatment that may or may not work down the line.
Silicon Valley Culture
To understand the controversy, you have to first understand Silicon Valley culture: all-nighters, cram sessions, turning down vacation time, and hours that would make a BigLaw lawyer shudder are bragging points. Some see this as an extension of that culture, a wink-nod, "optional" means of delaying conception until you've established your career.
Companies' demographics and other perks don't help the picture. Not only is the tech industry extremely male-dominated (that's why we call the Valley's largest city "Man Jose"), but corporate perks, while often generous, have room for improvement when it comes to working mothers.
Al Jazeera America notes that Silicon Valley companies often do offer generous family leave policies. Facebook gives both new mothers and fathers four months of paid leave and $4,000 for baby items. Apple offers mothers four weeks' paid leave before giving birth and 14 weeks afterward, while non-birth parents are offered six weeks of paid leave.
But the problem is returning to work: Neither offers on-site child care, though Facebook does reimburse some costs, Al Jazeera reports.
And one wonders how much of that leave he or she should take, especially since co-workers, who are often given unlimited vacation days as a perk, rarely take any time off. Can they keep up, or should they put of parenthood?