Everyday conversations: Women’s leadership [audio]

Two students talking about women's leadership (Thinkstock)

Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

In this conversation, three students (Lucía, Ajay, and Jana) talk about leadership, particularly the leadership of women around the world.

Lucía: Studying for this political science exam is driving me crazy!

Jana: Relax. Ajay and I were planning to take a study break, so we can help you study.

Ajay: Yeah, of course. What do you need to know for the exam?

Lucía: Well, at the moment, I’m learning that women leaders of countries are rare.

Ajay: I mean, I knew there were fewer female leaders than men, but how rare?

Lucía: Of all the elected heads of state in the world, less than 10 percent are women.

Jana: Less than 10 percent? That’s a terribly low percentage.

Ajay: I don’t understand why more women aren’t elected. Women have excellent leadership qualities.

Jana: Yeah, we do! For example, I can definitely multitask. And when I’m working on an engineering project, I have to collaborate. Those are both qualities that leaders should have.

Lucía: Absolutely. And you’ve seen me on the soccer field, so you know I’m strategic and decisive.

Jana: Also excellent qualities for leaders. And women also have grit. So many women have fought for what they believe in, even in the face of opposition.

Ajay: You didn’t have to convince me. I think both of you would make fantastic leaders. Wait, aren’t both of you leaders of clubs on campus?

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

In this context, the phrase “driving me crazy” means “making me annoyed and frustrated.”

A study break is a short period of time when a student stops studying and does another activity.

A head of state is a person who is selected to be the head of the government of a country. An elected head of state is a person who is selected by voting to be the head of the government of his or her country.

To elect means to select someone by voting.

Leadership qualities are the characteristics that leaders often have or that people think leaders should have.

To multitask means to be able to do several different things at the same time.

To collaborate is to work with one or more other people in order to achieve a common goal, create something, or do something.

Strategic means related to a plan of achieving a purpose or goal.

To be decisive means to make decisions quickly and with confidence.

Grit is a characteristic that means having mental courage and determination.

The phrase in the face of opposition means the time you meet or deal with the people or group you are competing against, as in business or a game.

In this context, the word wait is short for wait a minute/second/moment. This means that the person speaking has just remembered or thought of something.

In colleges and universities in the U.S., there are often clubs. A club is a group of people who meet to participate in activities or events, such as a sport, hobby or other shared interest.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.