Furious young Dutch researchers Boris Kingma and Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, of Maastricht University, have discovered that the nation’s air-conditioning systems are racist and sexist. They contend that most building managers set their temperatures according to patterns developed in the Sixties, before science had fully confirmed the existence of women and non-whites, and geared towards the preferences of white men.
The researchers explain that factors such as typical body size, metabolic rate and body fat all mean that women have very different “thermal comfort” levels and are, therefore, likely to be too cold in temperatures that men find comfortably cool. The same goes for different races: for instance, the average Asian weighs 30% less than the average white European, while people from Caribean backgrounds are likely to have grown up in homes that were kept far warmer than the average Dutchie.
This is about more than just comfort. The researchers note that humans perform both cognitive and physical tasks more efficiently when the temperature is “just right”, typically meaning that we feel slightly cold but so cold as to be distracted by it. Interestingly, this also means that children, with their smaller bodies, underperform in learning tasks when adult teachers set the classroom temperature according to their own comfort.
So, the obvious conclusion is that, if female and non-white workers are performing less effectively, they should be paid less than white men, possibly saving Dutch industry billions of Euros from their annual wage bill.