In the wake of the Alasdair Thompson/Helen Kelly face-off on Mike Hosking's show on Newstalk ZB this week, Ali Ikram had the best response in a day of great tweets - if it bleeds, it leads.

It was a play on the old media principle that disaster will always sell better than good news but, in this case, it was referring to the Employers and Manufacturers Association boss, Thompson, who claimed the gender pay gap in New Zealand was because women have "sick problems" once a month, along with extra time off to care for children.

I was in the newsroom when Laura, the lovely, bright young woman who sets up the breakfast show on ZB, hung up the phone on Thompson after arranging the interview for the morning.

She looked stunned and said: "You're never going to believe what he just told me."

She's in her 20s and comes from an era where young women and men are quite open with each other, and where men are just as happy to throw a box of tampons into the shopping trolley as they are the barbecue steaks.

I'm of the era where you didn't talk about it and when employers like the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand supplied a vinyl couch in the ladies' loo where you could go and have a lie down if it all got a bit much.

Thompson is clearly of the vinyl couch era.

And watching the unexpurgated version of his interview on TV3 was just ghastly - like watching a plane crash.

But that distracts from the issue. What does gender pay parity really mean? If women aren't earning as much as men, quite often it's because they don't want to.

They don't want to put in the hours and the weekends and the stress and the politics that are involved in clawing your way to the top of your field.

A lot of men don't want to do it either.

Those women who do want to, seem to manage to get there just fine.

Julie Christie is an example of a woman succeeding in a male-dominated and macho industry.

Helen Clark, Cathy Quinn, Theresa Gattung, Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron - all of these women are testament to the fact that it's not about your gender, it's about whether you want to work so hard and sacrifice so much to achieve your goals.

It's only a rare breed who do and you can bet your bottom dollar they wouldn't let a period hold them back.