Why Tech is Failing at Diversity and How It Can Succeed

By Kelly Nolan

July 11, 2017

Kelly Nolan, co-Chair for the PEARC.org 2017 conference Workforce Development and Diversity Stream and Compute Canada’s Executive Director, External Affairs, offers this perspective piece. PEARC17 is taking place this week, July 9-13, in New Orleans.

The sectors that are supposed to be all about innovation and the future continue to fail spectacularly at gender equity and diversity.

UK, US and Canada still haven’t managed to break the average 20 percent threshold for gender equity across STEM academic disciplines. And in some cases, the numbers of women are actually declining. Certain disciplines like to boast higher numbers but are still well below parity.

High-Performance Computing (HPC), Scientific Computing, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) academic departments and the IT industry are the epicenters for wealth, power and our future prosperity.

These sectors are dominated by men who in general are blind to their privilege and of the negative experiences of women and other underrepresented groups in their fields.

A growing body of evidence makes clear that diverse teams that include women executives equal increased competitiveness, creativity, innovation and profitability. ​Forbes and McKinsey Global Institute conclude diversity and cultural competency will be the #1 skill for competitiveness in the knowledge economy.

The IT sector and STEM research are the most vulnerable to talent shortages. Yet, a​ccording to the ​Glassdoor.com, ​computer programming is the worst place to be if you’re expecting equal pay for equal work.

Women in HPC reports​ that the UK, US, Europe, and Canada have not achieved anything higher than 17 percent participation of women at HPC industry and academic conferences.

Of more than 5,000 respondents in a Compute Canada survey (non-profit that provides high performance computing services to researchers across Canada) showed only 22 percent identified as women, only 722 indicated they were visible minorities, and even more distressing only 22 were Indigenous researchers.

Efforts are focused on the wrong problem

For more than a decade, these sectors have adopted initiatives to motivate girls to study STEM and support, attract, train and retain women. None have succeeded in any big way because the focus is always on the group that is marginalized and not ​the dominant culture. Women are leaving or not joining these fields because the work/team environment is uncomfortable at best and unsafe at its worst.

The Elephant in the Valley project ​asked more than 200 women in Silicon Valley to share their experiences. ​65 percent of women who report unwanted sexual advances had received advances from a superior, with half receiving advances more than once. 1 in 3 have felt afraid of their personal safety because of work related circumstances. 66 percent felt excluded from key social/networking opportunities because of gender and 59 percent have felt they have not had the same opportunities as their male counterparts. 90 percent witnessed sexist behavior at company events and/or industry conferences.

The Dominant Culture Must Adapt

Women no longer willing to put up with sexual harassment and assault in the workplace in Silicon Valley have gone public with their experiences. Disgraced executives, lost business and large payouts have followed. So now that we have a stick to force gender equity, what will it take to increase men’s participation for diversity and inclusion beyond the usual photo-ops and lip service?

We need to push the burden of adaptation on the shoulders of the dominant culture ​and that means challenging colleagues in ways you may have avoided in the past.

Researchers at the Universities of Colorado, Texas and Singapore found women and minorities are judged harshly when promoting diversity in the workplace, and are often viewed as less effective, and receive poor performance reviews.

Understanding privilege is difficult when it is so prevalent and most men do not understand that their own experience is radically different from a colleague that is not part of the dominant culture.

Research shows punitive or obligatory diversity or cultural sensitivity training fails. However, champions for change are born through understanding and men can become informed and be powerful ambassadors. Women and visible minorities all have a story to tell; it is time to start listening.

We need more leaders to develop cultural competency as a strategic goal that is measured and supported. Managers, professors must be held accountable for closing the gender gap and it needs to be linked to performance or access to funding. We know it doesn’t just happen on its own.

Our current leaders need to think carefully about mitigating resistance to change within their organizations. Most STEM teams have similar interests, experiences and education.

These teams need to invest in understanding the experience of women and communities, professions and disciplines that are not the part of their current professional or social networks. The game has changed. Those that fight to maintain the status quo in STEM, IT and HPC are investing in a failing model that has reached its expiry date.

About the Author

Kelly Nolan is Compute Canada’s Executive Director, External Affairs to which she brings strong experience in marketing, strategic relations, diversity and inclusion and business development.

Kelly is Co-Chair for the PEARC.org 2017 conference Workforce Development and Diversity Stream. PEARC17 is currently taking place in New Orleans (July 9-13). Kelly is presenting and chairing several sessions on unconscious bias and the diversity in advanced high-performance research computing sectors.

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!

Faster Optical Switch that Operates at ‘Room Temp’ Developed by IBM, Skolkovo Researchers

October 19, 2021

Optical switching technology holds great promise for many applications but hot operating temperatures have been a key obstacle slowing progress. Now, a new optical switching device that can operate at room temperatures a Read more…

Energy Exascale Earth System Model Version 2 Promises Twice the Speed

October 18, 2021

The Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) is an ongoing Department of Energy (DOE) earth system modeling, simulation and prediction project aiming to “assert and maintain an international scientific leadership posi Read more…

Intel Reorgs HPC Group, Creates Two ‘Super Compute’ Groups

October 15, 2021

Following on changes made in June that moved Intel’s HPC unit out of the Data Platform Group and into the newly created Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit, led by Raja Koduri, Intel is making further updates to the HPC group and announcing... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1938746143

MosaicML, Led by Naveen Rao, Comes Out of Stealth Aiming to Ease Model Training

October 15, 2021

With more and more enterprises turning to AI for a myriad of tasks, companies quickly find out that training AI models is expensive, difficult and time-consuming. Finding a new approach to deal with those cascading challenges is the aim of a new startup, MosaicML, that just came out of stealth... Read more…

NSF Awards $11M to SDSC, MIT and Univ. of Oregon to Secure the Internet

October 14, 2021

From a security standpoint, the internet is a problem. The infrastructure developed decades ago has cracked, leaked and been patched up innumerable times, leaving vulnerabilities that are difficult to address due to cost Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Cost optimizing Ansys LS-Dyna on AWS

Organizations migrate their high performance computing (HPC) workloads from on-premises infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for advantages such as high availability, elastic capacity, latest processors, storage, and networking technologies; Read more…

SC21 Announces Science and Beyond Plenary: the Intersection of Ethics and HPC

October 13, 2021

The Intersection of Ethics and HPC will be the guiding topic of SC21's Science & Beyond plenary, inspired by the event tagline of the same name. The evening event will be moderated by Daniel Reed with panelists Crist Read more…

Intel Reorgs HPC Group, Creates Two ‘Super Compute’ Groups

October 15, 2021

Following on changes made in June that moved Intel’s HPC unit out of the Data Platform Group and into the newly created Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit, led by Raja Koduri, Intel is making further updates to the HPC group and announcing... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1938746143

MosaicML, Led by Naveen Rao, Comes Out of Stealth Aiming to Ease Model Training

October 15, 2021

With more and more enterprises turning to AI for a myriad of tasks, companies quickly find out that training AI models is expensive, difficult and time-consuming. Finding a new approach to deal with those cascading challenges is the aim of a new startup, MosaicML, that just came out of stealth... Read more…

Quantum Workforce – NSTC Report Highlights Need for International Talent

October 13, 2021

Attracting and training the needed quantum workforce to fuel the ongoing quantum information sciences (QIS) revolution is a hot topic these days. Last week, the U.S. National Science and Technology Council issued a report – The Role of International Talent in Quantum Information Science... Read more…

Eni Returns to HPE for ‘HPC4’ Refresh via GreenLake

October 13, 2021

Italian energy company Eni is upgrading its HPC4 system with new gear from HPE that will be installed in Eni’s Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone (a provi Read more…

The Blueprint for the National Strategic Computing Reserve

October 12, 2021

Over the last year, the HPC community has been buzzing with the possibility of a National Strategic Computing Reserve (NSCR). An in-utero brainchild of the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium, an NSCR would serve as a Merchant Marine for urgent computing... Read more…

UCLA Researchers Report Largest Chiplet Design and Early Prototyping

October 12, 2021

What’s the best path forward for large-scale chip/system integration? Good question. Cerebras has set a high bar with its wafer scale engine 2 (WSE-2); it has 2.6 trillion transistors, including 850,000 cores, and was fabricated using TSMC’s 7nm process on a roughly 8” x 8” silicon footprint. Read more…

What’s Next for EuroHPC: an Interview with EuroHPC Exec. Dir. Anders Dam Jensen

October 7, 2021

One year after taking the post as executive director of the EuroHPC JU, Anders Dam Jensen reviews the project's accomplishments and details what's ahead as EuroHPC's operating period has now been extended out to the year 2027. Read more…

University of Bath Unveils Janus, an Azure-Based Cloud HPC Environment

October 6, 2021

The University of Bath is upgrading its HPC infrastructure, which it says “supports a growing and wide range of research activities across the University.” Read more…

Ahead of ‘Dojo,’ Tesla Reveals Its Massive Precursor Supercomputer

June 22, 2021

In spring 2019, Tesla made cryptic reference to a project called Dojo, a “super-powerful training computer” for video data processing. Then, in summer 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Tesla is developing a [neural network] training computer... Read more…

Enter Dojo: Tesla Reveals Design for Modular Supercomputer & D1 Chip

August 20, 2021

Two months ago, Tesla revealed a massive GPU cluster that it said was “roughly the number five supercomputer in the world,” and which was just a precursor to Tesla’s real supercomputing moonshot: the long-rumored, little-detailed Dojo system. Read more…

Esperanto, Silicon in Hand, Champions the Efficiency of Its 1,092-Core RISC-V Chip

August 27, 2021

Esperanto Technologies made waves last December when it announced ET-SoC-1, a new RISC-V-based chip aimed at machine learning that packed nearly 1,100 cores onto a package small enough to fit six times over on a single PCIe card. Now, Esperanto is back, silicon in-hand and taking aim... Read more…

US Closes in on Exascale: Frontier Installation Is Underway

September 29, 2021

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, held by Zoom this week (Sept. 29-30), it was revealed that the Frontier supercomputer is currently being installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The staff at the Oak Ridge Leadership... Read more…

Intel Completes LLVM Adoption; Will End Updates to Classic C/C++ Compilers in Future

August 10, 2021

Intel reported in a blog this week that its adoption of the open source LLVM architecture for Intel’s C/C++ compiler is complete. The transition is part of In Read more…

Intel Reorgs HPC Group, Creates Two ‘Super Compute’ Groups

October 15, 2021

Following on changes made in June that moved Intel’s HPC unit out of the Data Platform Group and into the newly created Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit, led by Raja Koduri, Intel is making further updates to the HPC group and announcing... Read more…

CentOS Replacement Rocky Linux Is Now in GA and Under Independent Control

June 21, 2021

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) is announcing the general availability of Rocky Linux, release 8.4, designed as a drop-in replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued CentOS. The GA release is launching six-and-a-half months... Read more…

Hot Chips: Here Come the DPUs and IPUs from Arm, Nvidia and Intel

August 25, 2021

The emergence of data processing units (DPU) and infrastructure processing units (IPU) as potentially important pieces in cloud and datacenter architectures was Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD-Xilinx Deal Gains UK, EU Approvals — China’s Decision Still Pending

July 1, 2021

AMD’s planned acquisition of FPGA maker Xilinx is now in the hands of Chinese regulators after needed antitrust approvals for the $35 billion deal were receiv Read more…

HPE Wins $2B GreenLake HPC-as-a-Service Deal with NSA

September 1, 2021

In the heated, oft-contentious, government IT space, HPE has won a massive $2 billion contract to provide HPC and AI services to the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). Following on the heels of the now-canceled $10 billion JEDI contract (reissued as JWCC) and a $10 billion... Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Quantum Roundup: IBM, Rigetti, Phasecraft, Oxford QC, China, and More

July 13, 2021

IBM yesterday announced a proof for a quantum ML algorithm. A week ago, it unveiled a new topology for its quantum processors. Last Friday, the Technical Univer Read more…

The Latest MLPerf Inference Results: Nvidia GPUs Hold Sway but Here Come CPUs and Intel

September 22, 2021

The latest round of MLPerf inference benchmark (v 1.1) results was released today and Nvidia again dominated, sweeping the top spots in the closed (apples-to-ap Read more…

Frontier to Meet 20MW Exascale Power Target Set by DARPA in 2008

July 14, 2021

After more than a decade of planning, the United States’ first exascale computer, Frontier, is set to arrive at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) later this year. Crossing this “1,000x” horizon required overcoming four major challenges: power demand, reliability, extreme parallelism and data movement. Read more…

Intel Unveils New Node Names; Sapphire Rapids Is Now an ‘Intel 7’ CPU

July 27, 2021

What's a preeminent chip company to do when its process node technology lags the competition by (roughly) one generation, but outmoded naming conventions make i Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire