My teacher really encourages everyone to learn both parts, although he tends to emphasize it a little more with women, probably because most men aren't interested in following. (Most) women will dance with other women, so it's a real benefit to know how to lead--I rarely have to sit out a dance. It does give you a great understanding of the other part, what is needed to lead well and what the follower expects. And if I'm in a class,sometimes I can help an inexperienced leader with his part. Plus it's just fun to learn more about dancing! I find myself hoping when I go to class that I will get to lead--I get lots of following in lessons and social dancing. Other women tend to think it's great that I'm able to do both parts, but most say "I could never do that!" It's a real feeling of accomplishment for me,who never thought I could dance to begin with!