Women's Office Space Carry More Germs than Men's

February 15, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Women typically keep their offices more tidy than men, but women have three to four times the number of bacteria in, on and around their desks, phones, computers, keyboards, drawers and personal items as men do, according to a new study from the University of Arizona (UA).

The study, conducted by Charles Gerba and commissioned by the Clorox Co., found that the average office desktop has 400 times more bacteria than the average office toilet seat, according to an Arizona Daily Star news report.

Makeup cases are the top bacteria spot in women’s offices. Using hand lotion and makeup often traps the germs and the germs then get transferred by mouth and face touching.

Germs also come from purses and women’s tendency to keep more knickknacks on their desks. Gerba also found that munching at the desk was one of the ways in which germs spread and 75% of women keep food in a desk drawer.

Despite women’s tendencies to carry more germs at the workplace than men, men’s wallets were the worst germ offender in the office overall. Another hot spot for bacteria in men’s offices: the personal digital assistant.

The study was conducted in more than 100 offices on the UA campus and in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oregon and Washington, D.C. Gerba and his research assistant sampled the same sites in each office, including the phone, desktop, computer mouse, keyboard, bottom of desk drawer, handle of desk drawer and personal items like PDAs, wallets and makeup cases and analyzed the total number of bacteria.

Gerba plans to target teeth-marked writing instruments pervasive in the workplace next, such as pencils and pens.

Last year, the study ranked teachers as the most germ-ridden profession, followed by accountants and bankers, most due to the fact thatthe phones, desks and keyboards regularly used by teachers, accountants and bankers harbor two to 20 times more bacteria per square inch than other professions (See Teachers ‘Ace’ Workplace Germ Test).