“On average, women tend to perform best when the temperature is warmer,” Ricker declares. “Say, around 75 to 77 degrees.” Men, on the other hand, are more productive when the thermostat is set lower—closer to 72 degrees, she says. This is a sweeping generalization, of course, as not all women and men may have these preferences (and research doesn’t take other genders into account, either)—but for now, that’s where the science stands.
Specifically, one 2019 study of 543 participants found that women performed better on math and verbal tasks at higher temperatures (while the opposite was true for men). Interestingly, though, the increase in productivity for women at warmer temperatures had a very significant effect, while the decrease in performance in men was there, but less pronounced. Meaning: Women’s productivity can really benefit at warmer temperatures; men do their best work at cooler temperatures, but their productivity doesn’t actually suffer too greatly when it’s warmer. Another study found that when men and women were exposed to the same temperature, women still reported feeling colder and more uncomfortable than men.
“A lot of people don’t realize that they are systematically putting themselves in environments where they cannot function at their best,” says Ricker. In the case of chilly workspaces, “there [may be] a group of people who is not necessarily doing it on purpose, but they’re optimizing for their own functioning.”