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4 Ways Ergonomics in Men and Women Differ

20 February 2023

How many workplaces have you seen where the working conditions are optimized based on gender? Although women and men working in the same office interact with the same objects, follow the same processes and are exposed to the same risks when it comes to ergonomics, both men and women are different, and so are the ergonomics for them.

Women and men are different physically and psychologically. Even if the nature of the job for both is identical, women will be at different types and magnitude of risks because of how different their bodies and physiques are.

This blog post explains how ergonomics differ in men and women and how you can improve ergonomics for women.



How are Women Different from Men in Ergonomics?

Women are at a higher risk of injury and health complications due to lower strength and repetitive movements of the upper extremities than men. Women aren't as strong as men from both physical and psychological points of view. Men and women don't only differ in size and physiology. Women have different physical strengths, centers of gravity, sports history, postures, and muscle activities.

Let's look in detail at the many ways ergonomics differ in men and women:

Women Have Different Centers of Gravity

The first and the most noteworthy factor that makes ergonomics in men and women contrastingly different is the fact that women have a different center of gravity than men. The center of gravity in men is near their chest, whereas, in women, the center of gravity is around the pelvis. The major difference in the center of gravity is what makes ergonomics in the two genders so different. In women, the lower back and hip position is lower than in men. Women sit differently. This is why sitting in the same office chair as men will affect women's bodies differently.

Women Have Got More Weight On Top

Due to more breast tissue in women, women carry more weight on top, which puts more stress on the neck and shoulders. The weight of the breasts pulls the upper body forward, resulting in continuous tension in the shoulders, neck, and back muscles. For this very reason, women are at a higher risk of experiencing pain in the shoulders, neck, and back and are also at risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders.

Women Have Different Genetic Markers on Their Muscles

Women and men have different sports histories. Most men participate in physically strenuous sports like soccer and basketball, while women participate more in gymnastics and ballet-like activities. Based on the nature of physical work, the muscles in men and women develop differently. They've got different genetic markers, and as a result, the muscle structure, strength, and development all vary. This is why women are usually not assigned tasks requiring a lot of physical exertion because their muscles don't have the memory of being so worked up.

Women's Life Roles Demand Different Postures

The life roles of men and women are very different. While most men are seen doing laborious tasks both at work and home, women are seen doing gentler things. Depending on this difference in gender roles, posture varies too. Women are primary caregivers of children. They sit with rounded shoulders when breastfeeding. They also carry their toddler on their hips, which is why their hip side is more prominent. The difference in roles and posture causes an asymmetry in their spines which affects the way women stand and sit.

How to Ensure Good Ergonomics at Work?

While the difference in ergonomics between men and women isn't discussed so often, it's a known fact that men and women aren't the same when it comes to physical strength. This is the reason why women are seen in gentler roles that require little to no physical exertion, while men are seen doing more laborious jobs like lifting and operating machines.

Despite most women being involved in desk jobs that don't require them to do any physically demanding tasks, you still need to ensure good ergonomics so that women aren't exposed to risks associated with poor workplace ergonomics.

Let's have a look at some of the most promising ways that'll improve workplace ergonomics for women:



Replace Office Chairs with Ergonomic Varieties

Just because women have to sit in their office chairs in front of the computer all day doesn't mean they aren't exposed to any ergonomic risks. Sitting in an incorrect posture itself is a huge risk that can put women at risk of posture-related musculoskeletal disorders. The first thing you need to do to improve workplace ergonomics for women is to replace regular office chairs with ergonomic varieties. As you already know by now, women's center of gravity and spine symmetry is different from men's. Therefore, sitting in chairs that offer comfort and support to their male coworkers may be extremely uncomfortable for women.

Ergonomic office chairs like the Ergonomic Office Chair OC3 enable women to adjust the office chair according to their comfort and physique. The most important feature of an ergonomic chair that helps women the most is the flexible backrest. Women's spine's curvature at the lumbar region is 13.2 degrees larger than men and regular chairs don't offer adequate lumbar support, thereby putting a strain on the lower back and increasing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. The backrest in an ergonomic chair is flexible; the seat depth is adjustable too, allowing the women to adjust the seat depth so that their back is fully supported against the backrest. Usually, the office chairs have large seats that are too big for women, and they're seen sitting at the edge with no back support.



Provide Ergonomic Keyboards and Mouse

Any tasks that involve repetitive motion puts women at risk of Repetitive Strain Injuries. While women aren't assigned tasks that require repetitive motion and exertion of physical effort like operating machines, their desk jobs can also be risky for them. If a woman has a desk job that requires them to use their keyboard all day, they're at a huge risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The incorrect placement of hands and wrists while typing and using the mouse can strain the nerve passing through the wrist, and this can result in painful tingling and numbing of the fingers, making typing uncomfortable and painful.

This is where introducing an ergonomic keyboard and mouse can help them steer clear of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. An ergonomic keyboard has a unique design that allows a natural placement of hands which reduces the strain on the fingers and wrists. Ergonomic keyboards with padded wrist pads are the best types of keyboards. An ergonomic mouse features softer and more sensitive buttons so that the user doesn't have to press them too hard, which can strain the fingers.



Install an Adjustable Monitor Mount

The neck and shoulders in women are already under a lot of stress due to the weight of breast tissue. Not sitting in the correct posture can worsen this strain and make sitting at work too painful. One of the biggest reasons why women experience pain in their necks and shoulders at work is the incorrect position of the computer monitor. If the computer monitor isn't at the right height and the user has to bend their head forward to view the screen, the weight on the neck and shoulders increases significantly. The neck and shoulders that are already under a lot of strain are further strained, resulting in painful neck and shoulders.

An adjustable monitor mount ensures the correct position of the computer monitor. It can be adjusted to ensure that the computer monitor is at the right height, distance, and angle from the user so that they don't have to tilt or bend their head while at work.



Lumbar Support Pillow

As you already know by now, the lumbar curvature in women is significantly larger than man, and they need additional lumbar support to be comfortable at work. A lumbar support pillow can do the job just right. It's an ergonomically designed pillow with curves that align with the spine's natural curve and offers superior back support to reduce the strain on the back and thereby reducing the chances of back strain and musculoskeletal disorders.



Should You Have Women Employees on Your Team?

Research says that women are more productive and efficient than men. They use their time and resources more efficiently and, therefore, have a better completion rate than men. Having said that, having women employees is great for any business. Considering how valuable an addition women are to the business, it's important that ergonomic differences between men and women are given thought so that women can be comfortable and safe at work and work to the best of their potential. Expecting women to give their best when the ergonomic conditions of the office aren't the most favorable for them isn't fair, is it?