Your Cold, Drafty Office Is Biased Against Women, Researchers Claim

Study Says Climate-Controlled Offices Are Too Cold for Women
A new study suggests that climate-controlled buildings may be too cold for most women to be comfortable
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08/03/2015 AT 11:00 PM EDT

Are you a woman who works in an office? Do you keep a blanket at work? Have you ever noticed that it's more often your female coworkers dressing as if they're expecting winter weather, even when it's a warm, sunny day outside?

A new study indicates that you may not be alone: Your air-conditioned office may, in fact, be too cold.

The study, published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, claims that indoor climate regulations are based on models from the 1960s that only took into account the metabolic rates of average men, which are 35 percent faster than those of average women. The study, titled "Energy Consumption in Buildings and Female Thermal Demand," suggests that as a result, women who work in climate-controlled offices might be cold – or in the language of the study, the workplaces might be "intrinsically non-energy-efficient in providing comfort to females."

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The study's authors, Boris Kingma and Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt – both of whom, it should be pointed out, are men – conclude that readjusting the internal temperature of buildings so that everyone is comfortable, male and female coworkers alike, would probably save energy.



"The main points here are that thermal comfort models need to adjust the current metabolic standard by including the actual values for females," the study concludes. "This in turn will allow for better predictions of building energy consumption, by reducing the bias on thermal comfort of subpopulations of individuals."

A New York Times article about the study points out that other factors could contribute to discomfort as well. For example, in formal offices, men may wear suits and ties even during the summer, but women tend to wear less clothing on warmer days.
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