Cold at work? Blame statistics.

The Today Show cast wearing Snuggies. Photo credit:

The Today Show cast wearing Snuggies. Photo credit:

Why are women bringing blankets to work in the summer, while their male colleagues think the temperature at the office is just fine?

It's because of a decades-old formula with some very interesting statistical implications, according to a new study from Nature Climate Change.

What did they find?

  • Women are not appropriately represented in the sample. Even today, when women are 47% of the workforce, "most office buildings set temperatures based on a decades-old formula that uses the metabolic rates of men," a New York Times article about the study notes.  
  • The statistical model may be wrong. In this case, the authors note that the model does not always consider women's wardrobes.  
  • Data changes over time. The formula "is based on a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds," says the Times. The median age of men in the workplace is 41.8, so that's pretty close. But the average man weighs 200 pounds, according to the CDC. How do those extra pounds affect how people feel? 

So the next time you think about bringing a space heater to put under your desk, think about why you need it in the first place.