“Turn the AC off please”- Chill factor hurts women work productivity
Complex Made Simple

“Turn the AC off please”- Chill factor hurts women work productivity

“Turn the AC off please”- Chill factor hurts women work productivity

Performance for women is tied to more balmy conditions. What about men?

  • Women’s scores on math tests increased by 27% when the temperature rose from below 70 degrees Fahrenheit to above 80 degrees
  • researchers reported that at colder temperatures, men scored higher than women on verbal and math tests
  • office climates had been optimized for a hypothetical roomful of 40-year-old, 150-pound men, using standards developed more than 50 years ago

It’s more likely for woman at the workplace to complain about the AC being too high than men.

 They have a good reason for that and now science backs them up.

Battle of the Thermostat’

The New York Times (NYT) writes that women scored better on tests they took in warmer rooms.

“Women’s scores on math tests increased by 27% when the temperature rose from below 70 degrees Fahrenheit to above 80 degrees,” NYT said quoting a study.

“One study even suggested that because women have slower metabolic rates, the formula used to set temperatures in workplaces, which was developed decades ago based on the comfort of men, may overestimate women’s body heat production by 35%,” NYT adds.

A question that hasn’t been asked much, however, is whether temperature affects the productivity of men and women differently.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, researchers reported that at colder temperatures, men scored higher than women on verbal and math tests. But as a room grew warmer, women’s scores rose significantly.

“If temperatures are cold, men are much better than women,” said Agne Kajackaite, a behavioral economics researcher at WZB Berlin Social Science Center in Germany, and an author of the study. “So there is this gender gap.”

 She added, “But then when temperature increases, the gender gap disappears”.  

For each increase of 1.8 degrees, women’s math scores rose by 1.76 percent.  

The Scientific American (SA) writes that a few years ago, scientists determined that our thermostats are sexist.

 “Namely, that office climates had been optimized for a hypothetical roomful of 40-year-old, 150-pound men, using standards developed more than 50 years ago. And that ends up leaving a lot of women in the cold, SA writes. 

Tom Chang, a behavioral economist at the USC Marshall School of Business and his colleague tested that link between temperature and performance by quizzing 543 German students on basic addition skills and word scrambles, in rooms that varied from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

"And if you went from the low 60s to the mid 70s, you saw an increase in female performance of almost 155. Which I found remarkably large. Much larger than I'd expected."

But men, on the other hand, had a small decrease in performance—about 3%—as temperatures rose to the mid 70s.  

Author
Hadi Khatib

Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it. [email protected]

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