Office Air Conditioning Sexism: Fact or Theory?December 21, 2016
Nothing can divide an office more than the temperature of the air conditioning, with a noticeable split between the opinion of male and female employees. This article will look into the theory that air conditioning is sexist, discussing the argument that the settings are designed for male comfort in the workplace, whereas women can be left cold.
Women vs Men
When the issue of air conditioning wars is delved into deeper, there seems to be a clear division between men and women. In fact, what is considered the ‘optimum air conditioning temperature’ is actually the optimum temperature for a man, as current air conditioning standards are set to match the metabolic rate of a 40 year-old, 70kg man, in line with research carried out in the 1960s.
As such, many argue that office air conditioning systems discriminate against female staff as they are calibrated to the way men react to temperature, without taking women into account.
Crucial for the productivity and wellbeing of staff, the term ‘thermal comfort’ simply means that an employee can wear their normal clothing without feeling too cold or too warm. This is achieved when the air temperature, humidity and air movement are all set within the required range, otherwise referred to as the ‘comfort zone’.
During the summer, many may choose to turn the air conditioning on full-blast to compensate for the hot weather outside. However, this can put women at a significant disadvantage, especially when they choose to wear summer dresses to cope with the increasing outdoor temperatures, only to find that the office is freezing! This deviation from their comfort zone can impact their performance, stress levels and welfare, so careful consideration needs to be made before changing the air conditioning settings.
What can be done to rectify this issue?
Ultimately, choosing the perfect working temperature is usually a subjective decision which can differ from person to person. However, it’s important for offices to re-evaluate the temperature they set their air conditioning to by considering that women naturally get colder much more easily than men.
Generally, the temperature inside an office should be set between 21-23°C (69-73°F) to create the ‘ideal working environment’. However, to gauge the general consensus throughout your individual workplace, the fairest method may be to take a poll to find out the preferences amongst your staff.
For first class air conditioning systems and quality workmanship, look no further than Airedale Cooling. We stock a comprehensive range of models, ensuring you receive the most suitable design for your application. We will travel direct to your site, promising a prompt response and minimal downtime to your business. To find out more, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team today.
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