If you are a woman who works in an office and is constantly cold, you are not alone.
By Zoe Madden-Smith of Subject: News
It turns out that the temperature in office buildings is based on the metabolic rates of men – who are naturally hotter than women.
Just another fun aspect of living under the patriarchy.
So why are women colder than men?
Studies have shown that women prefer a significantly warmer environment (25 degrees Celsius) compared to their male counterparts (22C).
This is partly because women naturally produce less heat than men. They are smaller on average and tend to have less muscle and more fat – and muscle produces more heat than fat.
All over the world, buildings comply with an indoor temperature standard based on a model developed in the 1960s by an American association of engineers.
The model takes into account things like outside air temperature, air speed, relative humidity, clothing, and the rate at which our bodies produce heat, called metabolism.
The only problem is that it’s tuned for the average man’s metabolism – not a woman’s metabolism.
When the researchers recalculated the model based on the average female metabolism, they found that the standard temperatures were noticeably lower.
They estimate that current standards, which are over 60 years old, may overestimate a woman’s metabolic rate by up to 35%.
This explains why women are more likely to complain of being too cold at work and to wear an extra sweater or scarf, even in the height of summer.
Women bear the brunt of cold offices
A US survey of 38,851 people in 435 office buildings in 168 cities found that 38% were dissatisfied with the temperature in their offices, and nearly two-thirds of them were women.
The vast majority of respondents said office temperatures were “too cold” in both summer and winter.
Women have been hit the hardest by this cold all year, with 76% of reports coming from women – and now science says it’s affecting the way they work.
Cold offices are a productivity issue for women
Despite the common misconception that cold makes you more productive, science has discovered the opposite.
A study from Cornell University found that when the temperature of an office was 20 C, employees made 44% more errors and were half as productive as when it was warmer at 25 C.
Research has found that when employees are cold, the body expends more energy trying to warm itself up. It can distract people and make it harder to focus and maintain energy throughout a long shift.
As a result, the researchers estimated that this lack of productivity costs employers 10% more per hour per employee, and raising the temperature to a more comfortable temperature would save employers about $2 per worker per hour.
Another study found that while men may be more productive in warmer temperatures, this difference is small, and the loss in productivity is nowhere near as large as for women in colder temperatures.
Cold offices are also a climate problem
The authors of the US office study say that overcooling in offices isn’t just a productivity problem, it’s also a huge waste of energy.
Air conditioning blasting contributes to the emission of more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. It also costs companies a lot of money unnecessarily every year.
That’s why they say it’s time to turn up the heat in offices to save money, the planet and women from freezing at work.