Career first, children later: Taiwan women put their eggs on ice; Women play a big part in Taiwan’s workforce, trailing only New Zealand and Australia for female employment among 14 countries in Asia

Career first, children later: Taiwan women put their eggs on ice

7:22am EDT

HSINCHU, Taiwan (Reuters) – Caught between traditional expectations and career pressures, working women in Taiwan are increasingly opting to freeze their eggs at fertility clinics as they postpone marriage and motherhood. Women play a big part in Taiwan’s workforce, trailing only New Zealand and Australia for female employment among 14 countries in Asia, a recent report by MasterCard showed.A slowdown in the economy has made job security an even more pressing priority. That has been a factor in pushing the East Asian island’s average marriage age to 30 these days, from 24 in the 1980s, and in driving the interest in egg freezing.

“I was not sure when my ovaries would start degenerating but I was sure that I would probably marry late and I was sure that I wanted to become a mother,” said Linn Kuo, 34, who chose to freeze her eggs three years ago.

Kuo, a manager at Cisco System Taiwan Ltd, has a well-paid job that allows her to work from home. While her career has had a smooth trajectory, Kuo said she has not been as lucky in her love live.

After her mother died, she realized the importance of having the support of children in later life.

“I already had my conclusion,” she said. “So I did some research and decided to freeze my eggs.”

Lai Hsing-hua, the clinic director at e-Stork Reproduction Center in the city of Hsinchu, said he realized the need for egg-freezing services when many patients asked for egg donors after a late marriage.

“We thought if they had frozen their eggs earlier, maybe they wouldn’t need to use donated eggs,” he said. “That’s why we combined in-vitro fertilization with the idea of prevention – prevent them from using others’ eggs after their fertility has deteriorated.”

The clinic now gets more than 100 phone calls a month asking about egg freezing.

Five years ago, it did just 20 of the procedures. It handled more than 70 cases in 2011, more than 50 last year and already more than 40 in the first six months of this year.

The technology has matured and the embryo now has a high survival rate with egg freezing, Lai said. The service costs around 80,000 Taiwan dollars ($2,680) and the whole process of retrieving the egg takes about 20 minutes.

Chen Fen-ling, a professor of social work at National Taipei University, said societal pressures were causing women to delay marrying and starting a family.

“Married women are like candles burning at both ends,” she said. “We say that women work two jobs. They make money with a daytime job but, when they go back home, they take care of their children and parents-in-law. This pressure often makes women hesitate when making the decision about marriage.”

Those realities about career, marriage and motherhood are reflected in a woefully low birthrate. Taiwan is tied with Hong Kong in third-last place globally in terms of the average number of children born per woman, just above Macau and Singapore, the CIA World Factbook says.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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