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Freeze frame: media coverage of Apple’s and Facebook’s egg-freezing employee benefit

Karen Grandy (Marketing/Communications Department, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 23 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the media coverage of a new reproductive benefit (oocyte cryopreservation) made available to employees at Apple and Facebook in 2014, in light of an ongoing public debate around the conflict experienced by women to be both “ideal workers” and “ideal mothers”.

Design/methodology/approach

The study examines the coverage of the new benefit as a news item in major American newspapers and websites. It uses problem/solution frame analysis and provides a qualitative analysis of the leads, journalists’ rhetoric and sources found in 23 news articles on the topic. A rudimentary quantitative analysis of positive and negative solution evaluations is also included.

Findings

All the articles were found to use a problem/solution frame in their presentation of the new benefit as a news item. When biology is presented as at the root of the motherhood/career conflict, as it was by many journalists and their chosen sources, this logically leads to a biotechnological solution, such as egg-freezing. Other potential contributors to motherhood/career conflict, such as rigid and gendered career timelines and inadequate supports for working parents, are largely left out of the discussion – as are potential broader workplace and socio-cultural changes.

Research limitations/implications

This study was limited to news articles only; the coverage of the issue in opinion pieces and in other media might have different findings. An experimentally designed study might lead to interesting findings on the impact of these framing elements (leads, rhetoric, sources) on readers’ responses to this topic.

Originality/value

This study contributes to research on the media coverage of motherhood and to management scholarship on gender, parenthood and work.

Keywords

Citation

Grandy, K. (2019), "Freeze frame: media coverage of Apple’s and Facebook’s egg-freezing employee benefit", Gender in Management, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 384-397. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-07-2018-0080

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited