Disclaimer: I am not a misogynist. While this writeup might be technically classifiable as sexist, I do not present it with any prejudicial intentions. The following is a true account of observed behavior, and in spite of the node title, no generalizations about women are to be inferred by the reader.

Background: I work in a small office building. The structure itself was originally erected as a gas station, and over time was converted into a variety of businesses, including an Arthur Murray dance studio. Years of periodic remodeling and expansion have resulted in a strange architecture of different floor levels, ceiling heights, and wall placements. (Two remodelings have occurred in the three years that I have worked here.) One interesting feature of my workplace is that the building is served by three separate HVAC units, each with their own independent thermostatic controls.

My coworkers are mostly women, ranging in age from 20 to 50-something. I am continually perplexed by a phenomenon that I witness on a daily basis: these women are suffering in great discomfort from the unbearable variances in regulated indoor air temperature.

A typical scenario: It's December, and the mild North Florida winter is dishing up highs in the 40s or 50s (°F). The women in my office are cold, even though the thermostats are on heat and set to 70°. So they push the thermostat up to 90° to warm themselves up. Out come the jackets and the space heater. Thirty minutes later, I'm sitting at my desk and breaking a sweat; it's 85° and rising in the office, and my female coworkers are surprised. They then readjust the thermostats to cool and 50°, complaining about the heat. This cycle will repeat at least three times during the day.

Another scenario: It's July, and the harsh Florida summer sun is serving up highs in the 90s and 100s (°F). The women in my office are hot, even though the thermostats are on cool and set to 70°. So they pull the thermostats down to 50° to cool themselves off. Thirty minutes later, I'm sitting at my desk and my nipples are getting hard; it's 55° and dropping in the office, and my female coworkers are surprised. They then readjust the thermostats to heat and 90°, complaining about the cold. Out come the jackets and the space heater. The space heater is 10 feet away from the thermostat which regulates their workspace. This cycle will repeat itself several more times during the day.

The kicker: Because my office has separate thermostatic controls for different zones in the building, a frequent situation occurs where one HVAC unit will be set on cool and 50°, while another will be set on heat at 90°. The units battle it out for a while until one part of the building is freezing and another part is burning up, and again my female coworkers are surprised. Would it surprise you to know that we have the air conditioning repair company's number programmed into the phone system's speed dial?

Analysis: I have watched this sort of behavior go on between my female coworkers for years now. I have observed my male coworkers intervene only in circumstances where the temperature extremes became excessive. I have tried many times to explain to my female coworkers what they are doing (per dmd's similar observation, complete with full-blown ranting), but they just laugh and shrug. And an hour later they are at it again. This has caused me to form a few theories as to why they persist in this behavior:

  • My female coworkers have a much narrower comfort range with regard to air temperature than my male coworkers do.
  • Comfortable air temperature is much more important to my female coworkers than it is to my male coworkers.
  • The awareness of autonomous control over one's environmental air temperature is much more acute among my female coworkers.
  • In spite of my repeated attempts to educate them, my female coworkers do not believe, understand or care about the way that thermostatic control of HVAC units work.
  • My female coworkers are stupid.
Any number of the above conjectures may apply here. The best response I can get out of those responsible for this never-ending game of hot and cold is "I was uncomfortable."

Conclusion: While I have considered installing locking covers over the thermostats in the building, or replacing them with code-locked digital controllers, this would result in persistent verbal complaints about the temperature which might push me over the edge. I don't need to worry about paying the bill for all the HVAC maintenance, but I can not help but find it worrisome that the women I work with are so obsessed with making our communal environment conform to the wildly fluctuating parameters of their personal comfort.

Oh, to hell with it. I'll just buy a fan and crack a window.

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