What is holding women back at work

Lesson plan overview

This business English lesson plan deals with the topic of women at work and the different behaviours that might be holding them back from getting ahead. Students learn expressions to talk about progress, practise their listening comprehension and talk about gender equality, women in the workplace and behaviours that help people advance in their careers. You can combine it with the worksheet “Idioms: gender equality”.

Vocabulary: After a short initial discussion, students learn phrases to talk about progress (e.g. we’ve come a long way, we’ve made great strides, there is considerable room for improvement). Then they use this newly-learned vocabulary to talk about different areas of gender equality and the changes that have taken place in the last 50 years. The next activity is a multiple-choice about idioms and expressions students are going to later hear in the video (can’t see the forest for the trees, stay on top of, get in your way, have a hard time).. They practise these expressions by answering a few discussion questions and sharing their personal experiences in the workplace.

Listening: The listening part starts with a pre-listening discussion: students look at different types of behaviours and talk about how each of them might help or get in the way of getting ahead professionally. Then they watch a video: “5 habits holding you back from success” and complete a table with information from the video.

Vocabulary extension: Students learn common expressions used when talking about gender equality (e.g. glass ceiling, gender pay gap, affirmative action) and wrap up the lesson with a conversation on the topic.

Homework: 3 research topics are suggested which aim to develop the topic further. The topics, combined with the additional resources provided on theenglishflows.com provide plenty of extra opportunities for contact with topic-related vocabulary in order to reinforce and enrich it

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Teacher’s lesson plan

Student’s worksheet

Student’s interactive PDF

Conversation cards PDF

Pre-class activities

To send the pre-class activities to your students, copy the link below.


Vocabulary matching


The first time you watch the video, pay special attention to the correct pronunciation of the following words:

1.course   2. financially    3.comfortable   4.budget    5.raise   6.audit


Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

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