This really ain't sexy, and I am revealing my inner anorak by writing about it. But stick with me while I drone on. I've just read through the annual statistics on pay and earnings, and I was surprised.
Everybody knows about the pay gap that means women earn less than men, and one of the reasons is that four out of ten women work part time, where pay is often lousy. A lot of mothers end up sliding down the ladder into more junior jobs that fit round the family better but don't pay as well as their pre-kids role.
But these figures show the quickest way to a godawful salary is to be a part-time man. The salary league table goes fulltime man, fulltime woman, then part-time woman, then the 11 per cent of men who work part time (median earnings £7.71 an hour before tax against £7.86 for part-time women and £12.97 for a fulltime man). That's comparing hourly rates, so even taking into account the fact that part-timers work a shorter week, they suffer extra just for not being fulltime. Why?
Maybe because men are less likely to downshift after having kids - some fathers still don't think it's socially acceptable to ask - these part time men are largely those who have always been part time. That might mean more of them are lowskilled, or in poor health, and therefore don't get a crack at wellpaid jobs.
But it feels like there's something curious going on. A lot of overstretched working mothers would like to consider both parents dropping down to part time for a bit while the kids are small, sharing the load. Yet if the paycut for doing that is even worse for men than for women, fathers are not going to want to do it.
I don't for one minute think the pay gap between the sexes isn't still a big deal - of course it is. But the gap between part time and full time pay (36.5 per cent less per hour, according to these figures) for BOTH sexes is worth thinking about separately.
The other interesting thing is that this was the year the recession really hit: lots of people got payfreezes or tiny rises. But fulltime women's earnings went up faster than men's (it was the other way round among part timers)
Why? Was it because of changes in the law, or because more women work in the public sector (where the pay gap's shrunk this year) than the private sector (where it's got worse)?
Or was it anything to do with the recession, and anxious women whose partners' jobs were vulnerable taking more on at work? It's too early to tell yet, but I am really curious about where this recession will leave working women.