Is Office Air Conditioning a Sexist Conspiracy?


Science has already told us that women feel more sensitive to cold temperatures, which is why going to movie theater can feel like stepping into a freezer. Working in an office all day can also be torturous if you forget to bring along a sweater. Over at The Washington Post, writer Petula Dvorak theorizes that intensely cold office temperatures are yet another example of the patriarchy dominating an environment. Dvorak researching this by talking to both women and men who are outside on their breaks away from their cubicles. Many of the women were “thawing out,” trying to soak up the warm weather. When the men were asked if the temperature inside their offices was too, they had no issues. How nice for them.

Dvorak observes that the women are dressed appropriately for summer weather, but once they step inside, have to resort to cardigans and pashminas to keep from freezing. In an office I worked at where the majority of the staff was women, blankets and scarves were draped over numerous chairs. Back in my old teen days of working at a retail store (Hot Topic), I’d constantly complain about the blasting AC. My manager (a man) would say that cold temperatures kept workers awake and more alert. He was wrong. Dvorak points out a study that revealed cold workers make more errors and are less productive:

Researchers had their hands on the controls at an insurance office for a month. And when they warmed the place from 68 to 77 degrees, typos went down by 44 percent and productivity went up by 150 percent.

Clearly, air conditioning should be turned down so efficiency can go up. And as Dvorak suggests, men should just wear lighter clothing in the workplace, like some nice linen and seersucker. Problem solved.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.

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