Women Still Struggle to Find Their Place in HPC

By Nicole Hemsoth

November 16, 2011

by Samantha Foley, Computer Science and Mathematics Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Rebecca Hartman-Baker, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Judith C. Hill, Computer Science and Mathematics Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Hai Ah Nam, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Although women comprise the majority of the United States labor force, 60 percent of college graduates in developed countries, most of the of internet users, and start the majority of new companies created each year in the US, they have made surprisingly few inroads into high performance computing. Women earn roughly 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 20 percent of advanced degrees in computer science and computer engineering. In recent years, the once-celebrated diversity of Silicon Valley has declined.

Likewise, African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are shockingly underrepresented in computing. In business meetings and at professional conferences and workshops, we often look around the room and find ourselves to be the sole representative of the female half of the population. Our African-American and Latina colleagues report a similar experience. It can be lonely if you are not part of the majority.

Because of this disparity, we were inspired to create a community for women in HPC. Our efforts began with last year’s BoF on Women in HPC at SC10 in New Orleans — a session featuring a panel with three successful women representing academia, industry, and national laboratories. During this BoF, which gathered more than 50 attendees (despite competing against the TOP500 announcement and the technical poster session), we gained several insights into the experiences of women in HPC.

First, women in HPC long for a community. We had a hard time getting everybody to leave the BoF even though the convention center was closing! Feedback from attendees included several statements of being happy to see so many other women at such a male-dominated conference. One woman said that she chose to attend this BoF to “not feel so alone.” Another mentioned that it is “always cool to see another woman in the ‘sea-o-men.”

Others suggested we extend the event, including one who jokingly asked for a full-day session for women in HPC, and another who wanted to go out to dinner as a group. From this feedback, we decided to organize a BoF dedicated to creating a community for women in HPC.

Second, as a more general issue, there are many recruiters, hiring managers, and CEOs interested in improving diversity — they just don’t know how. We had several good questions from the audience on that topic and in our feedback attendees asked for more information.

In particular, there were several men who attended the session, one of whom was “motivated by concerns about the prospects for [his] daughters in HPC,” another who, as a recruiter, desires to “increase the number of women on [his company’s] scientific/engineering team,” and an academic who wants to “help make [his] group better at retaining [diverse] people.”

Female attendees also asked for “quick tips on how to hire/find/recruit women.” Many challenges with respect to recruiting and retaining women also apply to other underrepresented minorities, thus we expanded our focus to address diversity more generally.

These are two very different issues that can’t be addressed in a single session. Thus we are holding two BoF sessions this year at SC11:

  • Thursday 12:15-1:15 – Developing, Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce in HPC (TCC LL2)
  • Thursday 5:30-7:00 – Women in HPC: Community Building (WSCC 613/614)

In our Thursday noontime BoF entitled “Developing, Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce in HPC,” we hope to empower employers and supervisors with the tools to create a work or educational environment where people of all types can flourish. We will begin with a panel discussion with five panelists who are successful in fostering a diverse workplace.

The panelists are Ricky A. Kendall, Group Leader for the Scientific Computing Group in the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Beth Plale, Professor of Computer Science at Indiana University (IU); Curt Sellers, the senior manager of staffing for NetApp’s Americas and public sector sales division; Carol Hogsett, a technical staff recruiter at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); and Katie Antypas, the group leader for the User Services Group at NERSC.

A chemist by training, Ricky has long been an advocate for diversity in computing and oversees a group of computational scientists in which women and minorities are well represented.

Beth, an advocate for women in computing at IU, is one of the founding members of the Women in Informatics and Computing group, the first woman in the computer science department to get tenure, and is working with Maureen Biggers, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Education, to make IU an exemplar for women in computing.

Curt, in his 5-plus years with NetApp (Fortune Magazine #3 Global Best Place to work), has worked both as a line HR Business Partner and in Staffing, giving him the unique perspective of not only having to attract top talent to this world class employer, but also develop and retain some of the mostly highly sought after employees in the Storage market.

Carol, using her education background, engages students across the country recruiting them to LANL where they are supported by mentorship programs. LANL has recently been recognized for its dedication to diversity in the Profiles for Diversity Journal.

Katie, while only being a Group Leader for a year, has encouraged a diverse work environment for her staff and other groups at NERSC.

The panelists will discuss the intersection of their experience with diversity and present ideas and strategies that they have successfully employed to create a diverse workplace. The session will continue with a Q&A session and open discussion.

On Thursday evening, we are holding the other BoF for building a community for women in HPC. One way to improve the gender diversity of the field is to build a community in which women feel comfortable interacting, giving and receiving advice, and sharing success stories that can inspire and encourage women at all career levels.

To this aim, we will be brainstorming ideas for creating and sustaining communities for women in HPC. We will start by identifying the goals of such a group, the people who will be the target audience and who will run the group, when and where women will have the opportunities to network, and what types of events will be run.

Through engaging the audience in a grassroots fashion, women in HPC, we will be assured that the community will reflect their needs and will be run by women passionate about the topic. For example, the community may decide to facilitate meet-ups at popular HPC conferences (including SC), organize local and regional events with a social or technical emphasis, as well as a develop a strong online presence where women can get the support they need and foster relationships with other women in HPC year round.

Whether you are a member of an underrepresented community, a hiring manager looking to improve the diversity of your workforce, or someone who has an interest in the HPC workforce, we hope that you will join us at one or both of these sessions and contribute your experiences, both positive and negative. These will be sessions that you won’t want to miss!

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

TACC Helps ROSIE Bioscience Gateway Expand its Impact

April 26, 2017

Biomolecule structure prediction has long been challenging not least because the relevant software and workflows often require high-end HPC systems that many bioscience researchers lack easy access to. Read more…

By John Russell

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, Nvidia, Stone Ridge Claim Gas & Oil Simulation Record

April 25, 2017

IBM, Nvidia, and Stone Ridge Technology today reported setting the performance record for a “billion cell” oil and gas reservoir simulation. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Remote Visualization Optimizing Life Sciences Operations and Care Delivery

As patients continually demand a better quality of care and increasingly complex workloads challenge healthcare organizations to innovate, investing in the right technologies is key to ensuring growth and success. Read more…

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Musk’s Latest Startup Eyes Brain-Computer Links

April 21, 2017

Elon Musk, the auto and space entrepreneur and severe critic of artificial intelligence, is forming a new venture that reportedly will seek to develop an interface between the human brain and computers. Read more…

By George Leopold

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Hyperion (IDC) Paints a Bullish Picture of HPC Future

April 20, 2017

Hyperion Research – formerly IDC’s HPC group – yesterday painted a fascinating and complicated portrait of the HPC community’s health and prospects at the HPC User Forum held in Albuquerque, NM. HPC sales are up and growing ($22 billion, all HPC segments, 2016). Read more…

By John Russell

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" processors. The infrastructure is based on the 68-core Intel Knights Landing processor with integrated Omni-Path fabric (the 7250F Xeon Phi). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN openlab Explores New CPU/FPGA Processing Solutions

April 14, 2017

Through a CERN openlab project known as the ‘High-Throughput Computing Collaboration,’ researchers are investigating the use of various Intel technologies in data filtering and data acquisition systems. Read more…

By Linda Barney

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of “quantum supremacy,” researchers are stretching the limits of today’s most advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference phase of neural networks (NN). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This