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Recline Vs. “Leaning In” for STEM Education & Careers?


Join us for our weekly Twitter Chat on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at 8 PM EST following #BigBeacon. The chat this week will be led by Dr. Fay Payton, and we will be discussing the ideas of “Leaning In” vs Reclining for those in STEM Education and Careers.

Intro written by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has offered one perspective to address question of inclusive of women in the workplace. Her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, speaks to family life and work balance. I am still unsure about the term “balance”. Rather, I

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see the notion as one of “integration” informed and/or influenced by intersectional dimensions of race, gender, class, first-generation, sexual orientation, etc. Yet, Lean In, also speaks to the need for women to take charge of their careers and push forward despite the “isms” that can and do exist. If you need a brief summary of the book, see this Lean In blogspot.

Many have found Sandberg’s call as placing the burden of change on women, speaking to the privileged and failure to recognize the nuisances’ women of color in the discourse. As Rosa Brooks of The Washington Post stated in her February 25, 2014 article, Sandberg connects to those with the resources to navigate, as she says, “all this Leaning In”. Brooks suggests that women should “recline” instead.

In STEM, I am interested to learn how can Lean In impact the education and career trajectories of those doing the leaning. If the text is indeed focused on women, what are the roles of men in the workplace, both academic and industry? This Twitter Chat links to the Big Beacon Manifesto: “The whole new engineer is authentically connected to with others.” Further, the manifesto encourages engineering education to embrace young people as whole-bodied and whole-brained individuals.

“The status quo will not go easily, but go it must.”

About Dr. Fay

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Cobb Payton


Dr. Fay Cobb Payton is the director and founder of, a social network, UX experience that focuses on health disparities and social media technology interventions. @MyHealthImpact (Twitter) provides “voice” for the millennial generation about health topics, such as HIV and mental health, and technology innovation. Dr. Payton is an editor for Health Systems, an OR Society journal, and is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at North Carolina State University. She received the 2013 National Coalition of Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) Undergraduate Mentoring Award.

She has presented to a number of organizations and professional IT organizations on the topics of leadership development, underrepresentation and inclusion of minorities and women in the executive ranks. She has worked with local, national and international groups to explore the intersectional aspects of race, gender and class along the K-16, industry and academic STEM pipeline.

She earned a Ph.D. in Information & Decision Systems (with a specialty in Health Care Systems) from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining the academy, she worked in corporate IT and consulting for IBM, Ernst & Young/Cap Gemini and Time, Inc. Dr. Payton was featured in Diversity Careers in Engineering and Information Technology for her mentoring work with minority and majority STEM undergraduate and doctoral students.

See myhealthimpactnetwork.orgon the web and follow on Twitter @myhealthimpact.

Follow Dr. Payton at her personal Twitter account @drfayonline.

About Big Beacon

The Big Beacon is a Movement to Transform Engineering Education. An Illinois not-for-profit corporation, Big Beacon was organized to catalyze a global social movement to transform engineering education. The Big Beacon connects dots among individuals and organizations to collaboratively disrupt the status quo, thereby bringing about change to align engineering education with the creativity imperative of our times. Read the Big Beacon Manifesto at

How to Twitter Chat

If you’ve never Twitter chatted before, don’t worry; it’s very easy. First, get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, and log in. At 8 PM ET on Wednesday go to and type #BigBeacon into the search box on Twitter. Thereafter all the tweets with the hashtag #BigBeacon will show up on your Twitter page. To participate, simply express your opinion by sending a tweet, and be sure to append the hashtag #BigBeacon so other members of the Twitter Chat see you are posting. Alternatively, automate the hashtag search and append feature by using the free service Tchat at

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