Men outnumber women by more than 2-to-1 at Apple and Facebook, but the technology companies may have found a new way to keep more women on board.
Facebook has begun and Apple is planning to begin paying for women employees to freeze their eggs, according to a report posted Tuesday by NBC News. The procedure, which had been experimental until two years ago, allows women to delay pregnancy and protect against the biological clock. Costs for the procedure can run from $5,000 to $15,000, which is why coverage under employee benefit plans marks a major milestone.
Adding a "cryopreservation and egg storage" benefit at Apple is part of a continuing expansion of benefits for women, the company said.
"We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families," the company said in a statement.
Supporters off egg freezing say it empowers women to keep climbing up corporate ladders without having to take time off to care for a child during critical career-development years. Detractors, including some women, argue that raising a child later in life won't necessarily be easier and that freezing eggs for job-related reasons suggests that women who became pregnant are unhelpful to companies.
But under pressure from industry activists this year, technology companies based in Silicon Valley have increased such programs to spur diversity in their workforces.
Apple's workforce was 70% male as of Aug. 2, and Facebook's workforce was 69% male as of June 25, the companies said at the time.
Google did not respond to an email seeking comment.