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Office thermostats may be sexist, according to research

'Many men think that women are just nagging, but it's because of their physiology'

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Thursday 30 November 2017 15:59 GMT
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If you’ve ever wondered why you or your female coworkers are freezing in the office, perhaps even relying on blanket burritos to keep warm during work, we want to assure you - it is not women being awkward.

It turns out that office thermostats are created for males. No, really. According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, “most office buildings set temperatures based on a decades-old formula that uses the metabolic rates of men.”

This formula, which considers factors like “air temperature, air speed, vapour pressure, and clothing insulation” is quite simple - but there is just one problem.

“One variable in the formula, resting metabolic rate (how fast we generate heat), is based on a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds.”

While that would be fine if men and women had the same metabolic rates - they don’t.

Additionally, various scientific studies have proven that “women have colder extremities than men, around three degrees colder,” and use of the birth control pill can raise the temperature of women - which can contribute to how women’s bodies respond to office thermostats.

Although the formula behind thermostat temperatures in office settings was “taken from a model devised by tests in the 60s,” when the majority of workers were male, the times have changed - now “47 percent of people in the workforce are women” and yet, there has been no compromise on the office thermostat setting.

“This is despite the knowledge that ‘the phenomenon of women getting cold is very, very obvious,’ and cold employees are less productive.”

And as even more incentive to change outdated office thermostats, turning the cooling power on the thermostat down a few notches may also be beneficial to the environment.

“For the planet’s sake, men should, ‘stop complaining,’ says Dr Kingma.”

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