My friend, who happens to be a physicist (so you know he’s smart) believes that women have a four degree comfort zone and men have a 20 degree comfort zone, and this explains why women are so often cold in an air conditioned environment.
I agree with this hypothesis. I have expanded slightly on his theory by identifying the average temperature ranges for both men and women.
In my experience, women seem to be most comfortable in a 68-72 degree environment, whereas men seem just fine in temperatures ranging from 60-80 degrees.
I have not conducted a formal study to determine if my friend’s theory is correct, but I know this:
In my four decades on this planet, I have never heard a man express the need for a sweater, jacket or wrap upon entering an air conditioned space. but I have heard a hundred thousand million women express this exact sentiment.
This has been enough evidence for me, but lo and behold, there is actually some research that supports this belief. Findings suggest that there is a significant difference in heat perception between men and women on average. While studies have found that women's actual core body heat is slightly higher than men's, women's extremities tend to be a lot colder.
In 1998, researchers at the University of Utah added a layer of subtlety to science's understanding of gender and body temperature. As had been found in previous studies, the researchers observed women tended to possess higher core temperatures than men (97.8 °F vs. 97.4 °F). Their hands, however, were consistently colder. A lot colder. While men registered an average hand temperature of 90 °F, the mean hand temperature for women was just 87.2 °F.
Similar studies have also found this to be true for women’s feet as well. Apparently this reduced temperature in a woman’s extremities accounts for greater sensitivity to changes in air temperature.
Thus the constant need for a sweater.
What will forever remain a mystery to me is how often a woman finds herself in need of a sweater and doesn’t have one. If you’ve spent your entire life shivering in movie theaters, restaurants and banquet halls, why would you ever leave the house without an additional layer?
I suspect that I’ll find no answer to this eternal conundrum.