Scientists Have Figured Out Why The Women’s Restroom Line Is Always Longer Than The Men’s

And they have an easy solution!

Every woman has been there: You leave the table at a restaurant, seats at the concert or even your desk at the office to use the restroom—only to find that the women’s line is infinitely longer than the men’s.

You may have even snuck into the men’s washroom a time or two to avoid the wait.

But never fear: In July 2017, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium took a look at this “queuing” problem.

They figured out how to cut women’s bathroom wait times by more than half—and the solution is surprisingly simple.

Why The Long Lines?

First of all, the Ghent University researchers studied why women’s bathroom queues take so much longer, and discovered that the problem can be explained by three main factors.

1. Men’s Rooms Accommodate More Occupants

Stalls take up more space than urinals do, so a men’s bathroom can, on average, actually accommodate 20 to 30 percent more users than the same-sized women’s bathroom.

Losing just one toilet space in a bathroom can increase the wait time by about 172 percent, according to the researchers.

men bathroom photo
Getty Images | Sara D. Davis

2. More Time Spent

Women spend more time in the restroom, generally due to practical reasons, with women taking 1.5 to two times as long in the bathroom as men do.

While men spend a minute heading in and using the urinal, women usually need to open and close stall doors, remove more clothing, and clean toilet seats—and that precious time adds up.

When you factor in the extra time it takes women to use the restroom AND the fact that there are fewer toilets available, you see a big difference in the wait times for men and women.

bathroom photo
Getty Images | Sean Gallup

3. Less Space + More Time Spent = Longer Lines

The third reason, researchers found, was how busy restrooms were.

Since women had less space and took longer in the bathroom, busy periods—such as during lunch breaks or at the end of a work day—amplified wait times for women.

In other words, it’s already worse for women than men. But when the system is stressed—say at the end of a sporting event—the wait times for women get out of control.

After identifying the reasons behind women’s longer wait times, the researchers used several simulated layouts in order to try and fix the problem.