Is There A Cure For 'Sexist' Air Conditioning?

The Internet has been abuzz lately about an article that appeared on The Washington Post claiming the cold temperature in office buildings was a sexist plot. Specifically, while the men in the office seemed perfectly comfortable with the air conditioning setting, women were being frozen in their seats. While some ridiculed the notion, it turns out the writer was actually on to something. Here's more information about the science backing the writer's claim and a few ideas on what you can do to make the temperature in your building comfortable for everyone.

Male-Centric Temperatures

According to new research, the ideal temperature in most buildings is calculated based on the metabolism of a 40-year-old man who weighs around 11 stone (approx. 154 pounds). The problem with this is that a woman's metabolism can be up to 30 percent slower than a man's. Basic biology can be blamed for the difference. In general, men tend to have more muscle mass and less fat than women, and people with more muscle mass tend to burn more calories, resulting in a higher metabolism. As a consequence, researchers found men tend to be comfortable at about 71 degrees Fahrenheit, while women are happiest when the temperature is set around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Making the Workplace Comfortable for All

Experts are recommending the ideal temperature be recalculated to account for the diversity in sex, age, and size (thin vs. overweight) found in the modern workplace, especially since the original calculations were done in the 1960s. However, you can do casual research in your own facility by speaking to your employees.

If you notice that most women are complaining of cold while most men are claiming they're comfortable, then you may need to adjust the thermostat. If the temperature is set around 70 degrees, split the difference and raise it to 73 degrees to see if that alleviates complaints of coldness while avoiding roasting others out of the office.

Another thing you can do is install registers in your office building that can be opened or closed. This will give employees some control over how much cold air makes into the work area and when.

Rethinking your seating arrangements can also make a world of difference. Let people who tend to be cold sit as far away from vents or registers as possible, since people who sit near them will be subjected to the constant flow of cold air coming out of the ducts. If the office has windows that face the sun, let employees sit near them so they can enjoy the natural heat sunlight typically brings.

For assistance with reconfiguring your air conditioning system to maximize the comfort of all employees, or to get a broken A/C unit fixed, connect with an air conditioner repair company in your area.

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