Taking the Temperature of Women in Tech

It’s no secret that the technology industry has a diversity problem and that women are under-represented in particular. Women face challenges in general but it appears to be especially exaggerated in tech. What can we do to improve the situation?

There is no doubt that for long-term change we need to focus on the education system and create a pipeline of diverse people entering the industry. However, there are things that you can do right now to make a difference in the short-term. Small things that add up.

One Simple Thing

One simple thing that we can all do to help is to not over air-condition our offices. It’s well-established that women feel the cold more than men do 1, so if you see a colleague wearing a coat indoors then it would be polite to ask them if they’re cold and turn the thermostat up if they are.

You could also amplify this message by orchestrating some behaviour change education in your workplace. The evidence suggests that many people do not know how to use a thermostat correctly, as you will often see one turned all the way up or down.

You could gently inform your co-workers how a thermostat works, that it should be set to the desired temperature and that setting it beyond this value won’t make the temperature change quicker. If you want to get technical you could explain hysteresis and that most thermostats are dumb (full PID control is rare because it costs slightly more).

There are many things that you can try in order to increase the comfort for all. There may be multiple thermostats or AC units set to different temperatures all fighting each other in one room. This is a waste and of course contributes to climate change. In addition, ensure doors and windows are shut if using AC or heating.

There are other things to consider too. People will be warmer if they have just come in because they have been exercising. Also, the position of any vents and drafts can have a significant impact.