Too hot/too cold: the "fur coat" theory

Last week, there was an amusing article by Karissa Marcum of the Denver Post which examined a subject near and dear to facility management professionals—temperature. Still the number one complaint in the workplace, according to IFMA‘s annual survey, the problem may be closely linked to issues of gender and vanity.

Marcum writes:

There are biological differences between women and men that make women feel colder, said Dr. Tom Denberg, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. The blood vessels under a woman’s skin constrict more than a man’s do, so less blood circulates close to the skin’s surface. Less blood closer to the surface makes the skin colder, Denberg said.

The problem is only made worse by the way women dress, according to a 2004 study on temperature in the workplace conducted by Cornell University Professor Alan Hedge.

The neck and ankles are the most sensitive parts of the body to temperature. While men wear socks and collared shirts, women rarely do. This leaves more of their skin exposed and makes them colder.

What’s more, men have hairier skin than women, which allows them to keep heat closer to their bodies.

“It’s the same concept as a fur coat,” Hedge said. “If women didn’t shave their legs, then they might be a little better off.”