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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gender Norms, Economic Inequality, and Social Egg Freezing: Why Company Egg Freezing Benefits Will Do More Harm Than Good

  • Author(s): Geisser, Lauren
  • et al.

Some of the largest companies in the world—including Facebook and Apple—began offering cryopreservation (aka, egg freezing) as a covered employee benefit as early as 2014.  This Article discusses the ramifications of such coverage on other diversity policies and employee benefits, as well as with respect to class and racial inequality, and gender-normative societal roles.

Egg freezing is an elective procedure to preserve a woman’s eggs by extracting, freezing and storing them until she is ready to get pregnant at a later point in time.  Similar to how the Pill allowed women to defer pregnancy and invest in their careers in the 1970s, some see egg freezing as the ultimate breakthrough to level the playing field for women so that they can have both a career and motherhood.  However, when an employer subsidizes that choice, and does so over other employee benefits such as paid parental leave, childcare or flexible work arrangements, the employer reinforces the dominant—yet as this Article shows, flawed—view that motherhood is incompatible with work.

Indeed, our society was founded on notions of individual rights and autonomy, and egg freezing benefits claim to provide a woman with the choice to put her eggs on ice as she focuses on her career, financial stability, and finding a partner.  This Article demonstrates that while potentially beneficial in the short term to recruit women and diversify the workplace, egg freezing coverage is more likely to aggravate class and racial inequality and disrupt the movements for supportive employee benefits and a restructuring of the societal norms of gender roles.  With movements such as Time’s Up and #MeToo rallying women and men around the world, it is time to bring to light and question notions of traditional gender roles that companies may in effect be reinforcing.

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