Why our office temperatures are set to be comfortable for men
Researchers have found the thermostats of most offices are set for the average 1960s worker: a 150-pound man.
A new study has finally shed some light on the reason women are still shivering in the office while men would be happy to wear shorts.
Most office building thermostats are still based on a design dating as far back as the 1960s, according to the research, which was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
This may explain why they best accommodate the average 1960s worker: a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds.
The resting metabolic rate of a woman can run between 30 to 40 percent slower than a man's, Boris Kingma, a biologist at Maastrict University in the Netherlands who led the study, told PBS.
The indoor climate control standards were established by the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers, and also account for other factors, such as humidity and airflow.
But more people are paying attention to the number of women who say they keep sweaters and blankets by their desks, even during 100-degree summers, reported The New York Times.
As the issue began to receive fresh attention last month, a report in The Christian Science Monitor outlined its surrounding research developments. Having spoken with women who claimed they needed to go outside just to warm up, Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak declared, “air conditioning is another big, sexist plot.”
This comes after a 1998 study in Utah, which found that women have colder hands than men. Researchers have also argued over what determines an optimal, productivity-enhancing temperature in the office, according to the Monitor.
“Gender equalities are increasingly being exposed. But many of us are surrounded by one such discrepancy much of the time without even knowing it,” wrote technology and health researcher Joost van Hoof in a commentary accompanying the study.
The researchers have proposed a new temperature model that claims it would both eliminate the gender bias and make offices more energy-efficient.
After testing 16 women in rooms called “respiration chambers” to track the oxygen inhaled, carbon dioxide exhaled, and internal and external body temperatures, they found that an average woman’s metabolic rate is 20 to 32 percent lower than rates currently being used.
Therefore, “the current metabolic standards should be replaced with the actual values to avoid wasteful heating and cooling,” said the authors.
“It’s just such a relief to know that there’s actually proof this is happening. It might sound like a bit of a silly, lighthearted issue, but actually, it’s really uncomfortable, being freezing at your desk every day, take it from me,” said The Telegraph’s Radhika Sanghani to Sky News.