Today came the news that Apple and Facebook are going to begin paying female employees to delay motherhood. No, that statement isn’t from a science fiction movie nor is it some morale victory for women’s rights. What it is unfortunately, is in reality women are being paid to delay childbirth and freeze their eggs. There is no similar dictate in place for male employees. So by omission, men can having as many children as they like but women, no you cannot have children.
As a woman I have so many issues with this corporate policy I don’t even know where to begin. Delaying motherhood for the sake of career may sound like a great idea when you are 21 and fresh out of college. Fast forward twenty years, 41 and no children. You decide you now want children (let’s assume that after 20 years of working you can suddenly take time off to have a child and raise one) and you decide to get pregnant. Guess what? Getting pregnant at 41 is not easy or uncomplicated. There is no guarantee that motherhood delayed is motherhood ensured. Now let’s assume that despite the risks to mother and child the pregnancy is successful and now that active toddler has a 45 year old mother who finds it exhausting to keep up with the demands of work, home, everyday life, and a toddler. Now, fast forward twelve years and that teenager is ready to drive, date, and Mom is in her mid-fifties and considering retirement options. How is that going to go? Mom retires and her teenager graduates high school on the same day?
The question has to be asked why aren’t male employees being offered the ability to freeze sperm? Why are women employees being singled out? Are men not considered real, viable parents in this country? Are men as parents so marginalized that their role as parents is not even considered? Men are required for parenthood. Men are required to be role models and examples to children, just like women.
Parenthood is the most precious gift we are given the potential to partake in as adults. Parenthood is not something we are entitled to or are guaranteed. Parenthood is an amazing blessing that I have not been blessed to receive.
I am living proof of delaying parenthood does not result in happy endings. If I could go back and make different choices knowing what I know now, I would be faced with a terrible quandary. I would tell myself that getting pregnant and becoming a mother is not easy, not guaranteed, and delaying the option is an irrevocable decision with life changing impacts. That self advice would probably result in me never meeting and falling in love with my soul mate which would break my heart. Luckily, I am not forced to pick between potential children and my husband.
Apple and Facebook, and any other corporation that follows their examples, effectively tells women employees that their reproductive rights and health interferes with corporate goals and earnings. Male employees are not told anything of the sort. This corporate policy by Apple and Facebook treats women as second class employees that only have a chance to succeed if they sacrifice their best reproductive years on behalf of the corporation.
Ladies, please don’t see this as some empowering decision by the corporations for your benefit. The old adage about “No one ever wished they could spend more time at the office” being uttered on a deathbed is true. Don’t sacrifice your ability and chance to have a child to make corporate gains that in the long run don’t bring health or happiness.