The news on Tuesday that Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL) will cover egg freezing for female employees has already received the requisite hashing and rehashing online. It has been alternately praised as forward-thinking empowerment and condemned for the implication that it will pressure young women to soldier on through their childbearing years. (You can have kids when you die. Promise.)
The two companies are offering up to $20,000—or the cost of two rounds of egg freezing, the casual term for oocyte cryopreservation—as part of already extensive benefits packages that include coverage for fertility procedures such as surrogacy and in vitro fertilization. Egg freezing isn’t covered by insurance, so this new perk could potentially save staff members tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses—no small thing. Yet based on reporting I did for a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story in April, the policy is likely to be remembered better as PR than as a boon to female employees. The idea that this coverage will entice women to casually freeze their eggs and get on with their 60-hour weeks is ludicrous.