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Men and Women Feel Temperature Differently: Let’s Start Doing Something About It

Research has shown that the average AC unit servicing a UK office is designed to serve the needs of a 40 year old male, whose metabolic rate may be up to 30% faster than his female co-workers.

Translated into simple English, this means that while men find the office temperature to be perfect for working hard, the average woman is working in a less-than-stellar environment.

Anecdotal evidence has hinted at this for decades but only recently has research confirmed that the AC in most offices is biased toward male workers, and is therefore the unlikely source of a strange and abstract form of sexism.

How the human body deals with changes in temperature

Even when external temperatures are at extremes, the human body is remarkably good at keeping core temperatures within a narrow range.

For example, when it’s hot your body will dilate the blood vessels nearest to the surface of the skin to allow excess heat to escape. You’ll know this is happening if you look flushed and are sweating.

When you are cold, the same vessels contract and this minimises heat loss from the surface of the skin. When suffering frostbite in freezing temperatures, some vessels will close off entirely to prevent the core temperature from dropping, despite this leading to severe damage to the limbs and hypothermia.

Core temperature should always be 37℃ and this fluctuates by 1℃ either way throughout the day. Factors that affect core temperature include age, illness, pregnancy and hormones, both natural and clinical variants.

Male and female bodies regulate temperature differently

So what are the physiological differences that cause a discrepancy between men and women’s ideal ambient temperatures? Though both men and women are capable of maintaining stable core temperatures, temperatures of the hands, feet and limbs are what cause individuals to feel hot or cold.

Studies, such as those found in The Lancet, have discovered that womens’ hand temperatures are up to 2.8℃ lower than men’s on average. It’s proposed that a person’s physiological differences such as size, weight and body proportions affect on individual’s ability to retain heat.

Women typically have a higher ratio of ‘surface area to volume’ and are smaller on average, which makes for a more rapid heat loss. Men also have great muscle mass which generates 25% of body heat even when stationary.

As it happens, women are more efficient at keeping their core temperature constant but this is at the expense of feeling colder in the extremities more quickly.

Turn up the thermostat

It has been suggested that all studies undertaken to discover the perfect working temperature (the ambient temperature that will increase productivity) are therefore inaccurate. No current study has considered a gender divide and the latest findings show that a woman’s ideal temperature could be 2.5℃ higher than those quoted by male researchers.

Conditioned Environment provide the highest quality heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems throughout London. We also offer facilities management for small and large businesses, where we can take care of everything from underfloor heating installation to emergency backup systems maintenance. We’re proud of our wide ranging services. So, to find out how we can benefit your business, contact us today. We’re always happy to help.