Ostracised & overworked? Women in finance & tech struggle to fall pregnant

By Kitty Knowles 6 May 2016

A lack of time, community, and mental wellbeing? Women working in finance and tech face more challenges when it comes to IVF.

Profession has a crucial impact on how easy it will be for a woman to fall pregnant through IVF, a new study has found.

In the US, women working in finance and tech are 60% less likely to have a successful IVF outcome than their peers, according to research collected by FertilityIQ.

Perhaps surprisingly, by contrast, the lower-paid job of teaching is shown to have a boosted success rate.

The research

Jake Anderson-Bialis, co-founder at FertilityIQ, and a former partner at Sequoia Capital, broke down the results for Fortune:

“We found that teachers are six times more likely to be successful with IVF than their peers in other professions (after adjusting for conflating factors like age, education level, and geography).

The investment bankers? They placed next to last, faring just a hair better than technology engineers (that’s despite the well-reported fertility benefits—such as egg freezing—offered by tech giants like Facebook and Apple). Patients working in these two occupations were a staggering 60% less likely to have a successful IVF outcome compared with their peers.”

So why are women in finance & tech having to fight so hard to fall pregnant?

Yes the high-flying jobs might be well-paid, but it seems that successful IVF treatment requires resources money can’t buy.

A lack of time, community and mental wellbeing all contribute to why women in these positions are struggling, suggests Anderson-Bialis.

An IVF cycle involves multiple time-sensitive appointments and surgeries, for example. This isn’t just about finding cover, but about whether it’s deemed acceptable to miss meetings or be relieved from your post – something schools understand far better than the average boardroom.

Workplaces with a sense of community and openness also support women better, says Anderson-Bialis. Among teachers, open dialogue about pregnancy and IVF is accepted, and becomes a means to access recommendations, cover or emotional support. Many businesswomen will know that this camaraderie is lacking (if not entirely absent) in many high pressure, male-dominated jobs.

Women fear being relegated to the “mommy track,” says Anderson-Bialis.

Finally, it’s a matter of mental health. According to RESOLVE, a non-profit dedicated to reproductive health, “the more anxiety or depression the women expressed before undergoing IVF, the less likely they were to get pregnant.” If your stressed out, overlooked and ostracised for wanting children, this will impact your chances of falling pregnant.

We need to fix our fertility crisis

Today, approximately 70% of IVF treatment cycles fail.

The average IVF patient spends more than $60,000 per cycle, but obviously, this is not just about financial loss.

The emotional trauma of failed IVF can be immense.

Companies and individuals alike need to address this, and support their staff.

Expectant mothers and new mums are legally deserving of maternity leave, but women fighting to fall pregnant are falling through the cracks.

Speak up, and show your support

Our industries have to change both socially and pragmatically to stop this from happening.

We must create workspaces where women are not punished for their desires to become mothers, where they are not afraid to speak openly about their IVF trials, and where they can find support that they need.

As Anderson-Bialis says: “It can be hard for people to recognise that that infertility needs the full-time devotion required by a sick child or an illness.”

But that doesn’t mean we should not strive towards this.

Women undergoing IVF need allies, will you help them speak out?