Is air conditioning sexist? OPINION

Even Braveheart would shiver with cold in some northern towns.
Even Braveheart would shiver with cold in some northern towns.
Share this article

There can be no doubting that we live in mad times. The climate is on the blink and we are all falling out about an issue which, five years ago, only really mattered to a handful of swivel-eyed loons.

The vast majority of us live our lives at the behest of a small electronic device we keep in our back pockets and millions upon millions of us are glued to programmes about the daily routines of beautiful dull people.

But there can little doubt the claim air conditioning is sexist trumps everything else when it comes to encapsulating how utterly bonkers the early part of the 21st century has become.

The provocative assertion was first made three years ago. The journalist who made the eye-catching suggestion did so on the basis of statistics showing the average office air conditioning is set at a temperature suitable for the metabolism of an 11 stone, 40-year-old male.

The same writer has recently revisited the thorny issue armed with another study to bolster her argument, with this one claiming to prove that colder conditions affect the average woman's workplace performance.

While it might be true that most women prefer the thermostat a couple of notches higher than their male counterparts do, it does seem a stretch unrealistic to suggest ladies cannot perform as well as blokes when it is cold.

How do the authors of the academic report explain Newcastle?

Some of my most accomplished colleagues have been northern women; doughty professionals who perform miracles in places so cold even Braveheart would consider putting a coat on.

The notion that a complex feat of engineering could be any way susceptible to any form of discriminatory behaviour is far-fetched to say the very least. 

And so is the idea that a mafia, formed of middle aged men in corduroy, has colluded to ensure all women workers feel compelled to wear a knock-off Hermes scarf at their desks.

In my experience, air conditioning is an afterthought in the vast majority of offices I have worked and, in most cases, it has had two settings – working or broken.