What’s the right office temperature? The perennial debate among disgruntled employees became a topic of interest for the upcoming televised debate between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Democratic challenger Cynthia Nixon this Wednesday ahead of the primary.
Cuomo is known for preferring arctic temperatures for his public appearances. As Keith L. T. Wright, a former member of the New York State Assembly, once put it, his rooms can feel “like a meat locker.” But the Nixon campaign was not going to let his preference be the default. Rebecca Katz, a strategist for Nixon, reportedly asked WCBS-TV, the station hosting the debate, to up the temperature to 76 degrees, because working conditions are “notoriously sexist when it comes to room temperature, so we just want to make sure we’re all on the same page here,” according to an email obtained by The New York Times.
In response, a representative to Cuomo later minimized the request, telling CNN that, “Unlike Cynthia Nixon, the governor has more important things to focus on than the temperature of a room.”
Yes, office temperatures have been dialed for men
Science is on Nixon’s side. Office temperatures have long been calibrated for the comfort of men over women. One 2015 study found that office thermostats are set with the assumption that all employees are 40-year-old men weighing 154 pounds. The topic sparked a debate of its own on social media:
Some thought that 76 degrees was way too hot:
76 degrees is absurd unless you're a grandparent in Florida, but the thermostat patriarchy is real.
— Stephen Stirling (@SStirling) August 28, 2018
76 degrees is too hot to begin with, let alone when there will be a bunch of other people in the room, plus broadcasting equipment, which will all raise the temperature.
Also, if you are cold, wear a jacket and/or sweater.
Finally, temperatures are not sexist.
— Carol Roth (@caroljsroth) August 28, 2018
While others found Nixon’s request to raise an important issue of who gets to be the default:
When I say, 'We live in a world where the default setting is always male' – this is what I mean. @tylerpager @nytimes Can An Office Temperature Be 'Sexist'? Women, And Science, Say So https://t.co/GuMgTqY91s #changetheratio #diversity
— Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) August 29, 2018
The heat is on for the debate, but it remains to be seen what temperature is actually going to be set for it. Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, posted a picture of Cuomo’s dog Captain lying in ice, with the caption: “Captain recovering from attending debate prep in Team Nixon’s preferred temperature.” Nixon said she would “debate the governor in a parka if I have to because the people of New York deserve a debate.”