University of Worcester has launched a £1 million study to explore how heat affects females and how to manage it.

The study is led by Dr Jessica Mee, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise science.

She has received almost £1m from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through its Future Leaders Fellowship award to carry out the research.

The team will investigate a long-understudied area, as much of the existing evidence about the impacts of heat on the human body is largely based on male-participant research.

Dr Mee's investigation will be assessing females of a variety of ages, activity levels and physiological states, from the effects of a warming climate to those of hot offices.

Dr Mee said: "The overarching aim of the study is about improving females’ health and performance by mitigating and managing heat strain.

"We’ll be evaluating a range of females, from those who are sedentary, physically active, and trained, as well as those of different body sizes, ages and menstrual states."

She further highlighted the current gender imbalance present in similar studies, citing the complexities of factoring in the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives as potential reasons for this underrepresentation.

Worcester News: The ground-breaking is led by Dr Jessica Mee

The research aims to develop an improved understanding of females in this area using robust and high-quality research methods.

Dr Mee said: "Traditional heat mitigation strategies, such as air conditioning, are often not accessible to some of the most vulnerable such as in areas of poverty and in occupations involving outside activity.

"These strategies also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions which increase the risk of future extreme heat events, so this research will be looking at sustainable and accessible strategies to mitigate and manage heat strain."

The study, which will also feature Dr Neil Maxwell of the University of Brighton as a co-investigator, aims to not only better understand how heat impacts the female population, but also to spark more research in the field.

Dr Maxwell said: "A priority of the study centres around evaluating heat mitigation strategies to offer advocacy to help females across the age spectrum manage the heat better".

He further stressed on the relevance of this research in the context of our warming climate and the need for female specific data.