By Daniel Hunter

Facebook and Apple are offering to freeze their female staff's eggs in an attempt to promote gender equality.

Facebook has offered to pay up to $20,000 for the procedure, covered by their insurance plans, since the start of the year. Apple is expected to introduce the policy in January 2015.

It is designed to help the companies attract and keep the best female talent by allowing them to avoid the choice between motherhood and progressing their career.

In a statement, Apple said: "We continue to expand our benefits for women, with a new extended maternity leave policy, along with cryopreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive support for infertility treatment.

"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 tech sector is typically dominated by male staff. But people have campaigned to increase the number of women working in Silicon Valley.

The topic was fired back into the public eye last week when Microsoft chief executive, Natya Sadella, suggested that women should not ask for a pay rise, instead having trust in 'the system' to enforce equal pay.

Jennifer Tye, head of marketing for Glow, a technology company offering women services to control their reproductive health, is in favour of freezing women's eggs.

She said: "Egg freezing gives women more control.

"When I turned 30, I had this notion that my biological clock was ticking, but I didn't know what my options were.

"These employers should be commended."

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