• Thu, 27, Jun, 2019 - 5:00:AM

Even the office thermostat is sexist

The one thought running through my mind every second of every day at the moment is, “I’m cold. I’m cold. I’m cold.” That’s it, on repeat, all day. Am I alone in that? I mean it’s winter, so obviously not. We’re all walking to work wrapped in a jacket, scarf, beanie and gloves at the moment, right?

The only problem is, when I arrive at my 9-5 office job, I have literally zero desire to take off that jacket, scarf, beanie and gloves. Because there’s a lot of huge windows and not a heat pump in sight. Or at least, not one that’s set to anything above -5 degrees. 

It’s all right for all the men, who are proven to have more muscle mass and faster metabolisms and are therefore naturally warmer than women, and who get to wear suits and jackets to work every day. But I am super freaking cold, and I feel like I spend at least four out of eight hours a day breathing into my hands to keep them warm.

This isn’t a new experience for me, or even an experience that’s limited to the winter months. At my old job, the air conditioning was set on such a high and cold blast from November through March that I constantly had goosebumps, despite the fact that I would be sweating within thirty seconds of leaving the office for lunch. Every morning was an internal battle, do I dress for the office or for the commute to the office? Either way, I spent a lot of time being uncomfortable. 

Turns out, it’s not just me suffering from unjust workplace temperatures. It’s a legitimate, well-researched phenomenon. Studies have shown that air conditioning temperatures in offices tend to be based “on the resting metabolic rate of a 40-year-old man, which runs up to 30 per cent faster than a woman’s.”

The temperatures in offices around the world are established to make men comfortable, because the average person is a man, right? Women are just random outliers? Especially in a place of work. That’s men’s domain! How long have women even been allowed there?

I know women who bring blankets and hot water bottles to work with them. I know women who try to type with their gloves on, which surely isn’t very productive. I know women who spend their whole day at work self-conscious because it’s so cold that their nipples are clearly visible through their work clothes, and they don’t want to wear padded bras, god damn it.

I often go to the bathroom at work just to run my hands under some hot water. I often fashion my denim jacket into a blanket that covers my knees. At my old workplace, I had my own personal space heater under my desk that at least kept my legs warm while my fingers went blue and fell off. I’m writing this with my toes.

I jest, I still have 10 icy digits, but I feel like it shouldn’t be considered normal for women to have to go to such lengths to be comfortable in their workplace. It shouldn’t be considered normal for me to come home and try to relax after eight hours of clenching my jaw and destroying my posture in an attempt to brave the cold. 

And more than that, on principle, it should not be considered normal that we think of men as the baseline, standard human. Not everyone has the same metabolism as a 40 year old man and not everyone is allowed to wear a full suit and jacket to work every day. Men are not the average human. There is no average human, when it comes to office air conditioning or literally anything else. 

Surely we can find a medium temperature, that’s somewhat comfortable for men and women and everyone else. Please, can we? Soon? I’m so cold. 


  • Sexism /
  • Office /
  • Work /
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