Like many young women my age, I have come to fear my office air conditioner and all the pain and misery it brings.
It’s a familiar story. In 2015, scientists found that the math typically used to set the temperature in most office buildings was biased in favor of men. The formula uses the metabolic rate of a 40-year-old, 154-pound man, not women, to determine comfort levels, which is why many women are miserable all the time (plus the whole centuries of oppression thing).
Little has changed since the study was published. And because I can’t change culture alone, I’ve decided to accommodate, not fight for justice.
I’m bringing my space heater to work, and turning it all the way up.
I’m not trying to subtweet my company, a nice place full of great chairs and above-average people. Nor am I shaming our office manager, an unrecognized saint forced to navigate ten bazillion temperature and snack requests daily. This problem isn’t unique to Mashable. I’ve struggled with this quiet inequality at multiple jobs, and I’m tired.
My summer office uniform has been the same for ten years. Every work day I wear a t-shirt and long pants with long socks to eliminate ankle exposure. In my backpack, I bring a hoodie, a hat (sometimes wool), and an extra pair of socks in the event I’m placed near a vent. In my office cubby, I keep two dark blankets, one for my lap, and one that I wear around my head like a Russian babushka’s shawl.
Visually, I look like if Strega Nona went to work at a tech start-up.
It’s hideous. And it’s the reason I’ve decided to bring my space heater to work this summer — to give myself that bare minimum of warmth my body so deeply deserves.
Air conditioning is a hazard to my health. Year after year, I’ve struggled with a minor, erratic sniffle that refuses to go away until air conditioning season has passed. Have you ever heard the sad sound of a woman sniffle in summer?
And yes, I understand that blasting a space heater while an AC is running is hazardous to this whole environment thing everyone’s talking about. Ideally, we’d live in a world where I didn’t need to bring in a space heater, where the temperature was set responsibly and equitably.
But why am I, a woman struggling to stay warm, being asked to assume total responsibility for the planet? My carbon footprint is minor. I walk for fun and cut all my soda rings. Stop victim-blaming. Let me toast myself.
Some of my co-workers may find this space heater annoying. They may want to remain ice cold. Frankly, I would love it if all the ladies in the office could gather around my space heater like it was a summer bonfire and we could swap stories about our shared air conditioned woes. Nothing brings people together like concentrated warmth.
If you’re a woman out there currently struggling to stay warm in the office, I urge you to consider a space heater. Fight for your right to stay comfortable. You might encounter resistance but you’ll always have my love.