Science Proves Women Perform Worse In Chilly Work Environments
We've all worked in offices where it is constantly cold, no matter how many times we email Gary the maintenance guy to turn the air con down.
But while shivering at your desk all day is no fun, it turns out Baltic office conditions are also damaging women's performance at work, according to one study.
New research has found women work more effectively at maths and verbal tasks at higher temperatures, while oppositely, men perform best in cooler conditions. Performance in cognitive tasks by both men and women was found not to be effected by temperature.
The research, published in Plos One titled Gender and the Effect Of Temperature On Cognitive Performance, suggests that in gender-balanced workplaces temperatures are currently at the disadvantage of women and "should be set significantly higher than current standards".
Currently, the 1992 Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations require employers to provide minimum workplace temperatures of at least 16 degrees or 13 degrees if the indoor work requires physical effort. There is no maximum temperature in the regulations.
Current air conditioning standards are taken from research from the 1960s, which is based on the metabolic rate of an 11-stone, 40-year-old man.
The new research tested over 500 students from universities in Berlin who were asked to perform maths, verbal, and cognitive reflection tasks. One set of tasks was completed in a room controlled at 16.19 degrees celsius, while the other was completed in a room at 32.57 degrees celsius.
The researchers pointed out that one disadvantage of this subject pool is that it's "not representative of the whole population with respect to age and education level".
As well as concluding that workplace temperatures could be disadvantaging women, the researchers said their results should be taken into consideration in all further scientific experiments that study psychology, economics and social science that test human subjects.
They said: "Since we show that ordinary variations in room temperature can affect cognitive performance significantly and differently for men and women, experimental social scientists should take this into account when both designing experiments and interpreting the results."
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