Why Women Are Always Freezing At The Office, According To Studies

Photo: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock
woman working in blanket

You get used to bringing a sweater — just in case your office feels like a freezer, just in case the air-conditioning is on too high at the movies, and just in case there aren't enough blankets at the bed and breakfast you're staying at.

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As women, we always have to prepare for the fact that we might get cold. It's just something we naturally do. And this is good because women produce less body heat than men

Studies have found that while women's actual core body heat is slightly higher than men's, our extremities are a lot colder. And you know if your hands and feet are cold, the rest of your body will soon be shivering.

But according to an article in Business Insider, most office buildings are kept at a temperature that's comfortable for the average man and this is why women so often feel cold at work.

Apparently, buildings all over the globe go by the indoor temperature model determined over 50 years ago by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers

And those temperatures haven't been adjusted in the years following. I guess it didn't occur to anyone that maybe working women deserved to feel comfortable while at work, too.

There's definitely some underlying sexism in there for sure, and no one wants to wear six layers to work. 

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The model that was developed in the 1960s is based on factors such as air temperature, airspeed, relative humidity, clothing, and the rate at which our bodies make heat (our metabolism).

"In principle, it's a beautiful standard based on thermodynamics — the heat balance between the body and the environment," Boris Kingma, a biologist at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands and co-author of the study, told Business Insider.

However, evidence suggests that (like the women always having to bring a sweater) women feel a lot colder than men.

"Current indoor climate standards may intrinsically misrepresent thermal demand of the female," Kingma and his co-author, Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, wrote.

Here's the thing, though: there's a benefit to changing the fixed temperatures (besides making half the population more comfortable). It would certainly save a lot of energy.

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"Ultimately," Kingma and van Marken Lichtenbelt added, "an accurate representation of thermal demands of all occupants leads to actual energy consumption predictions and real energy savings of buildings."

Some of us run cold, so this is less than ideal. 

In other words, think of the ladies, too, and you'll save some money on energy. But until these outdated standards change, it's still a good idea to bring a sweater — just in case.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.