Working in an Icy Fortress

New York Times and a lot of other news outlets are reporting recently on this article about gender bias in thermostat settings. The authors set out to conduct a small-scale study to find out if there’s any weight to anecdotes about women freezing in offices while men are perfectly comfortable in the same space. The equation typically used to calculate the ideal thermostat temperature in buildings is based on the metabolic rate of a 154 pound 40-year-old male. The authors of the article claim that this measure overestimates women’s metabolic rate by up to 35%, meaning the overall equation lends to a lower temperature than women would find comfortable in buildings. Because the sample size was small, the authors plan to expand on their research with further testing and hopefully confirm their results with a larger group. However, the current results are still very interesting and clearly worth further pursuit.

In the Eisen lab, we solve our thermostat problems with onesies. Photo via @hollyhganz
In the Eisen lab, we solve our thermostat problems with onesies. Photo courtesy of @hollyhganz

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Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev is a recent UC Davis graduate with a BS in microbiology working in Jonathan Eisen’s lab on aquariums as part of the microbiology of the built environment.