By Siri Srinivas
Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg. Photograph: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
Technology companies offer generous maternity benefits as part of attempt to make Silicon Valley friendlier to top female talent.
Career women, have you placed your family-making plans on the back burner? Maybe that’s not far enough. It may be time for cold storage.
Silicon Valley giants Facebook and Apple will now pay for employees who want to freeze their eggs. This is strange new ground even for technology companies who are famous for luring talent with big money and glorious perks.
Facebook recently introduced this coverage under its surrogacy benefits. Beginning in January, Apple will pick up the tab on bills up to $20,000 for egg-freezing procedures taken by its female employees. This is in addition to Facebook’s $4,000 cash bonus to new parents and Apple’s 18-week paid maternity leave.
In a field that is dominated by men, these moves may be another push to make Silicon Valley friendlier to top female talent – or at least, top female talent that wants to lean in before it comes time to burping up.
But why now?
“There’s been an explosion,” in the number of women freezing their eggs for potential insemination later, says Dr Alan Copperman, director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Mount Sinai hospital. The number of women opting for egg-freezing has risen fourfold in the last four years, he says.
“It is now a tried and true option for many women,” Dr Copperman says of the procedure which costs up to $10,000 with an additional $500 on yearly storage costs.
It’s so popular that it’s becoming a present in some families. Copperman says he has had older female patients who, as a gift, pay for egg-freezing for their young, ambitious daughters.
Copperman approves of giving more options to young women, even if he admits that he wouldn’t recommend delaying child-bearing. “Eggs never get better over time,” he explains.
The move by Apple and Facebook may explain a trend that is already in motion among young female executives. He describes the increase as career-focused women in their 30s “creating options” for child-bearing. Women don’t want to let their careers or not meeting the right partner affect plans for their ideal families.
Even though technology companies have rushed to make up for the break in careers many women face when they take time off to have children, there is also an economic benefit for women in delaying child-bearing.
A new study released by CUNY’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies shows that men who have children made more money than women with children in the last three decades.
The report compares census data from 1990, 2000 and 2010 to examine the impact of parenthood on personal income. Unsurprisingly, men in general made more money than women, whether or not they had kids.
In 2010, the median personal income of men with children was $54,500 to the $38,586 earned by childless men.
If men seemed to benefit from their parenthood, women did not. Women workers made $32,700 a year, their median income rising microscopically from the $31,065 that childless women earned.
CUNY’s researchers calls this imbalance the “daddy bonus” and the “mommy tax” on personal incomes.
The authors of the report suggested that women who are parents worked fewer hours each week, which accounted for the discrepancy in income.
There’s a significant gap in that theory, however. In 2010, for only a 13% reduction in the number of hours worked, women made a staggering 40% less than men.
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