If you are a woman who always feels cold in the office, you aren’t alone. There are countless women just like you who feel as if they are freezing at work everyday and they too have to contend with funny looks from their male colleagues when they subtly turn the air conditioning down.
The question is, why do women tend to feel the cold in the office more then men? Recently, a study entitled ‘Energy Consumption in Buildings and Female Thermal Demand’ provided some answers.
Many men think that women who are cold in the office are just being awkward, but finally we have science to prove that there is a reason why offices are always too cold for women. Read on if you want to find out exactly why you are experiencing these problems in the workplace.
Women’s bodies produce less heat than men’s
Findings have shown that women’s bodies produce less heat than their male counterparts. This is due to the fact that women are generally smaller than men and they tend to have less muscle and more fat. As muscle produces more heat than fat, this is a big reason as to why females aren’t able to produce as much heat as males.
After analysing the metabolic rates of 16 young women who worked in offices, it was found that they were far lower than standard values. In fact, women have up to 35% lower metabolic rates than men, and with male bodies predominantly used to set office temperature standards, this means that the standard temperatures used in offices to provide a comfortable environment are too low for many women.
Air conditioners make it harder to maintain optimum temperature
Maintaining an optimum office temperature in buildings that utilise air condition is far more complex than you may realise. You need to calculate occupancy, clothing expectations, system efficiency and so much more to be able to accurately provide and maintain a comfortable temperature.
As we have already touched on, the thermal comfort standards take into account metabolic rates that appear to have overestimated women’s intrinsic heat production. Consequently, the standards are more favourable to male dominated office environments.
What you can do to solve the problem
Taking the necessary steps to reconfigure air conditioning systems to take into account that workforces are no longer predominantly male will lead to greater comfort for female employees. Furthermore, with less focus being placed on making offices feel like a refrigerator, the amount of energy consumed by air-conditioners would significantly decrease and this will only have a positive effect on CO2 emissions and a company’s utility bills – so it is a win win situation!
If you work in a shared serviced office, make sure you talk to the landlord before you start looking at alternative temperature settings on the air conditioning system. They want to provide you with a comfortable environment and should be willing to take the necessary steps to ensure that the temperature is at a level that is comfortable for both male and female workers.
Ultimately, we won’t see widespread change until the standards take into account female bodies. It may seem like an obvious option, but the world of science can be seen as dated because they don’t have a great track record when it comes to acknowledging women’s existence. Consequently, a quicker option could be to speak to your line manager if you feel the office temperature is causing you ill health or preventing you from completing your work.
Getting the standards changed is a long process so in the meantime you’ll probably see us women hunched over our desks with a less than fashionable hoodie on, but at least we’ll be warm!
Featured photo credit: Stockpic via stokpic.com