Do you regularly have to wear a sweater at work, even during the summertime? Well, there’s a scientific reason for that and you are not going to like the answer.
In a recent article in The Washington Post called “Frigid offices, freezing women, oblivious men: An air-conditioning investigation,” author Petula Dvorak goes into the very real struggle many women face at their workplace: It’s too damn cold, and it’s July!
According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, office temps are regulated using a formula for a “thermal comfort model.”
This formula takes into consideration elements such as the temperature and the speed of air within the building, as well as any insulation provided by the workers’ clothing. The factors are organized into a seven-point scale and then juxtaposed against the PPD, or “predicted percentage dissatisfied.”
The PPD measures what percentage of workers are probably feeling either too hot or too cold.
During the development of this formula, scientists chose a 40-year-old man weighing roughly 154 pounds as the basis for the equation’s resting metabolic rate.
Since women, on average, have slower metabolisms and more body fat than men, the formula leaves many women freezing.
Ignoring the physiology of women when creating the “thermal comfort model” resulted in an estimated 35 percent deficit in heat production. It isn’t great for productivity, either. A study cited by the The New York Times showed that people make more mistakes and get less work done when the air temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit compared to when it’s 74 to 76 degrees.
“Researchers had their hands on the controls at an insurance office for a month,” writes Dvorak. “And when they warmed the place from 68 to 77 degrees, typos went down by 44 percent and productivity went up by 150 percent.”
If it only takes raising the temperature five degrees to increase productivity 150 percent, perhaps it is time to change the formula and consider the metabolic rates of professional women everywhere.