If you’ve ever worked at an office, you’ve probably seen women with extra cardigans and sweaters huddling preparing for the office to snow. If they could crank up the temperature, they would. And a study published in PLOS One suggests that women would perform better at work in a warmer setting.
The researchers divided 550 German college students into two groups: one that worked in a cold room, and another that worked in a warm room. The temperature varied between 61 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Both groups completed the same cognitive tasks such as math problems, word scrambling, and word problems.
They found that women solved the problems quicker and more accurately in warmer temperatures. Men, however, did the opposite. The gap between gender wasn’t large, but the study’s lead author, Agne Kajackaite, says that it matters because preferences “vary by more than a single degree.”
All human bodies have roughly the same core temperature, with women’s being slightly higher than men’s. But our perception of temperature relies more on skin temperature, which tends to be lower for women due to hormones.
In a 2015 review of corporate buildings in Nature, researchers report that most officers set their thermostats using a male-centric “thermal comfort model,” which explains why offices feel so cold to women.
Kajackaite asserts that you should pick your sweaters with great thought. “Temperature could affect not just the comfort, but the everyday performance of people,” she claims. “It might also affect your performance, so you should take it seriously.