Can an Office Temperature Be "Sexist"?

Climate control in the workplace can be a chilly issue

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek August 29, 2018
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New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and challenger and former "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon met Wednesday night for a debate ahead of the Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

But before they'd even stepped on stage at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., Nixon's camp had gotten heated up over another issue—the temperature setting of the room where the two will face off.

Cynthia NixonIn a note to debate hosts WCBS-TV, her campaign team suggested the room temperature be set at 76 degrees for the one-hour event, claiming that workplaces are "notoriously sexist when it comes to room temperature," the New York Times reported. Although, as another media outlet pointed out, the location for the debate—which will be outfitted with hot camera lights and equipment—is not a typical workplace.

But whether the request is met warmly or with a chilly response, it raises anew the issue of climate control in the workplace.

SHRM Online has collected the following articles on the topic from its archives and other news outlets.  

Can an Office Temperature Be "Sexist"? Women, and Science, Say So ...
Cynthia Nixon's request to keep a debate venue at 76 degrees has reignited the perennial, gender-fueled debate over office temperatures. (The New York Times


Nixon and Cuomo Are Talking Climate (of the Room Where They'll Debate) 
A leaked email has raised—quite literally—the temperature in the race between Cuomo and Nixon.
It was a cheeky opening bid, the campaign later said; an effort to move the dial away from the chilly atmosphere Cuomo is known to prefer while turning some public attention toward his alleged control of the debate settings. (CNN)   

Yes, Your Co-workers Are Secretly Changing the Office Temperature
Few office debates are more fraught than the one over the thermostat. While some envelop their goosebumps in desk blankets, others bask in glacial air-conditioning, unfettered by the dissonance between summer heat and open-layout freezers. (Quartz)  

Research: Office Thermostat Settings May Be Sexist 
Whether it's a sweater, a blanket or a clandestine space heater, women who work in offices often rely on help to stay comfortable and productive at work. And their discomfort is not imagined, studies show. (PayScale)  

[SHRM members-only Q&A: Are We Required to Keep the Workplace a Certain Temperature?]   

It's Not Just You: Science Shows Why Women Are Colder in Offices Than Men
Is it just a myth that women are always cold? It turns out there's science backing up the idea. Most standards for heating and cooling buildings come from recommendations by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The model uses data about the workers in the office—and this is where the problem is. The model has changed little since the 1960s. The ASHRAE model typically uses just one representative metabolic rate in making predictions: that of a 40-year-old, 154-pound man. (K-5 News)  

Your Office Thermostat Isn't Sexist, Office Dress Code Is! 
If you've ever wondered why you or your female co-workers are bundled up in a cardigan, pashmina or an oversized sweater to keep warm during work, we want to assure you—it's not because the air conditioning is sexist and wasteful. Not quite. Could it be possible that the transgressor is the inherently sexist office dress code? Let's find out. 

Picture it: It's summer and while women are celebrating the warm weather with sundresses, silk shirts, and linen shorts, men are wearing the same long pants and long-sleeved button downs that they always have. (HR Digest)  

Summer Dress at Work: What's Appropriate and What's Not 
Many companies have adopted a more-casual approach to dress codes in recent years. But summertime can raise questions about just how casually employees should be allowed to dress. (SHRM Online)  

Welcome to Temperature Court
(Dilbert comic strip)

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