Over the past few days or so, much has been written about the question of egg freezing for women so as not to interrupt their careers. Extensive media reports suggest that Apple and Facebook are offering this to women so that they don’t take a career hit.
There are a lot of ways you can look at it but the first thing that occurs to me is this: this isn’t the most effective way to sort out inequality for the simple reason that it does not sort out the inequality suffered by fathers too much.
Ultimately, when you’re designing a solution for a problem and the question here is, what problem is solved by freezing eggs so that women have (or at least try to have) children much later? Well women take a career hit.
The question is why do mothers take a career hit when fathers do not? The problem to be solved isn’t “get women to try for babies later” but “get parents to have equal rights and and responsibilities”.
The way to do this, however, is not solely to challenge women’s positions in the workplace by keeping them there longer, but to challenge men’s positions in the workplace by keeping them there less time.
Children benefit by this; they benefit by greater contact with both parents, and parents, to be honest, are better equipped to have children at a younger age (ie, when they have more energy) than when they are forty and “established” in their careers for want of a better word.
Ultimately, I think it is good that egg freezing is supported if that is what an individual woman wants; but it should not become a method by which their employers decide when they have children, and when they should wait.
There is no real similarity in terms of paying for contraceptives and paying for egg freezing; contraceptives are not just indicated for preventing babies anyway, and a lot depends on the objective of egg freezing – is it to benefit the woman, or is it to benefit the company paying for it?
Ultimately, the issue I have here is it is not solving the problem; just a symptom of it, and that is the one whereby female parents are discriminated against in the workplace when male parents are not, not to the same extent anyway.