A climate change prescription: Show more skin at the office

Maybe it’s about time women get a little respect around the office thermostat.

A study published today says women are suffering at work because the thermostat settings are based on the metabolism of men.

The study investigated the “thermal state” of young adult women in offices and it found what just about any young woman can tell you: It’s too cold in the office.


The study concludes that buildings should “reduce gender-discriminating bias in thermal comfort” because setting temperatures at slightly warmer levels can help combat global warming, the New York Times says.

Wonkblog’s Ana Swanson writes today that all of the new smart thermostats and various gizmos to make buildings more efficient won’t do much good until men start changing a few things.

“Women do register temperature a little more sensitively than men,” says Susan Mazur-Stommen of Indicia Consulting, a company that studies human behavior and sustainability. “However, what you also see is gendered clothing differences, particularly seasonal. We have norms that say it’s more acceptable for women to show more skin.”

“We’re cooling these buildings because men will not stop wearing business suits. It really comes down to social norming,” Stommen says. “We are spending a lot of energy keeping men both thermally comfortable, and also socially comfortable.”