Female and feeling cold at the office? A recent study by Boris Kingma and Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt shows that you are not alone.
Kingma and van Marken Lichtenbelt, researchers at the University of Maastricht Medical Center in the Netherlands, studied metabolic rate in men and women, and how it relates to the global office environment.
The researchers found that the temperature of workplaces worldwide is based on the average body temperature of a 40-year-old, 155-pound male.
Looks like the office is stuck in the past. The current climate standard was put in place in the 1960’s, at a time when female workers were fewer and farther between.
Today women make up 47% of the workplace in the U.S.According to Kingma, on a report on CNN Money, “Women are generally smaller than men and have a higher body fat percentage. So, their metabolic rate is 20% to 35% lower.” Mark Newton, a scientist at W.L. Gore, the company that makes Gore-Tex and a researcher at the University of Portsmouth, explains that women feel the cold more than men because they experience it more in their extremities, as they are better at conserving heat.
“Women have a more evenly distributed fat layer and can pull all their blood back to their core organs,” he says.
It’s speculated that women evolved this type of system in order to enable them to survive in freezing temperatures, as they carry less fat and muscle than their male counterparts. As smaller humans, women need a more efficient way of protecting and maintaining their core body temperature.
Other factors that can influence a female state of comfort, Newton says, is the point at which a woman is in their menstrual cycle, and whether or not they are on the Pill, as both can change a perception of the cold by raising the core body temperature by more than 1°C.
Is it possible a middle ground can be found? Kigma and van Marken determined that a woman’s ideal indoor climate temperature is nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than a man’s.
Scientists say 21°-24°C is an ideal setting for forced air environments.
Researchers at Yale found that psychological warmth and physical warmth have close connections in our brain, and that when we feel warmer, we’re more generous and trusting of those around us.
John Bargh, a professor of psychology, who conducted a study says, “It seems that the same part of the brain, the insular, which is the size of a walnut right in the middle of the brain, handles both sensations of physical temperature and trust in someone else.”
So, if you’re constantly cold at work make a deal with yourself to grab a light sweater and visualize the beach, waiting for the weekend.
Or, maybe give your boss a hot cup of joe and ask to turn the AC down. Biology is on your side.