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"There are real differences between men and women, some of those differences relate to biology"

Sexism behind thermostat battles, new study says. Here's why


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Monday, August 10, 2015, 11:37 - The battle over the office thermostat is as old as thermostats themselves, but a new study sheds light on why women seem to struggle more than their male colleagues.

It's not that the indispensable device is sexist, just its standard setting. New research published in the journal Nature says those were first developed in the 1960s -- at a time when the average office worker was overwhelmingly male.

As such, those settings overestimate the female metabolic rate by as much as 35 per cent, meaning women radiate 35 per cent less heat.

"This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy efficient in providing comfort to females," the report's authors write.

According to Scientific American, the standard was developed by Danish scientist Povl Ole Fanger, who reckoned 70oF would be the most comfortable level. The researchers, based on their experiments, suggest a level of 75oF, a mid-way point between what men and women typically find comfortable.

Though we doubt that would do much to curb the bickering over which way to turn the dial, the report's authors say energy efficiency concerns may force managers to adopt their proposed sweet spot.

"If your building is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, you’re already over your estimated cooling demand," author Boris Kingma, at Maastricht University in the Netherlands told Scientific American.

SOURCE: Nature | Science Magazine | Scientific American 

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