Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

By Tiffany Trader

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provides participants the opportunity to network with industry leaders and meet new contacts as well as brainstorm about ways to improve diversity and inclusivity for women within the HPC community.

As keynote speaker Angelo Apa of Lenovo noted, “if this was an easy problem to solve we would have fixed it already, so we need to generate ideas. My request of you today is in exchange for lunch help us solve these problems.”

Angelo Apa, Lenovo

Apa, technical sales and business development director at Lenovo Enterprise business group, shared the reality that between 18 and 30 percent of the workforce in the tech industry is female depending upon the country. “This is rubbish anyway you look at it,” he said. “We really need to do something about this.”

Lenovo’s numbers are better: 37 percent of its total global workforce is female, 14 percent of execs and 30 percent of managers. But, as Apa is quick to point out, these numbers are skewed by China having representation of women far above the global average.

“There is inherently a culture of diversity at all times in Lenovo,” said Apa, who’s worked in tech for over 30 years. The business was started in 1984 in Beijing by 10 people, seven men and three women. “Because they wanted to grow so quickly they realized they had to become multi-country, multi-cultural very quickly, so the whole diversity thing generally is pretty strong culturally inside of Lenovo. Now what we need to do is work on how we can develop that so we see a higher degree of general diversity than we see today in Europe.”

“We need to make sure that we are mirroring society because if we’re not, then we’re not relevant,” said Apa. “It doesn’t matter if you make the best servers in the world; it doesn’t matter if you make the cheapest servers in the world. It makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. If you’re not mirroring your customer, then that customer will not buy from you. So that’s something that we really need to work on from a business perspective as well as everything else.”

In 2007, Catherine Ladousse, executive director of communication EMEA at Lenovo, started the Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL) program, which includes an executive training program that fast-tracks talented women in the company, providing them with individual coaching and professional development sessions.

At a WILL breakfast event in Milan held earlier this year, Apa was speaking with Paul Rector who runs the Lenovo global accounts business worldwide about recruiting women applicants. Apa’s job advertisements were failing to attract women. Rector recalled the advice of a hiring consultant he had worked with: write job descriptions in a female-friendly way.

“But surely a job description is just factual,” Apa thought, “What does it mean to write it in female-friendly way?”

Apa recently went through a female recruiter to fill an open position, a pre-sales technical role. Going through all of the usual channels resulted in not a single female applicant.

“Can you help me understand what’s going on here and how to improve recruitment efforts?” Apa asked the room.

Rebecca Hartman-Baker, Berkeley Lab (center)

“Sounds like you need new channels,” said Rebecca Hartman-Baker of Berkeley Lab. “It’s like if you were going to go out fishing and you went to your fishing hole and there were no fish there, you’d find another fishing hole where you can find the fish.”

Allison Kennedy, co-founder and senior advisor Women in HPC and director, Hartree Centre, emphasized the need for more effective outreach. “I think you have to contact woman directly, go through networks. Women are more likely to know other women.”

Another idea was to advertise with Women in HPC, which is completely free.

The potential for sexism in the recruiter, even if female, was also raised and the importance of implicit bias training.

The 70 or so attendees, mostly women and a few male colleagues, were not short on ideas for crafting a female-friendly job description. If the job description specifies expert-level experience or cites an extensive list of requirements, women are more likely than men to take themselves out of the running. “Make sure you’re not making a laundry list where you’re looking for a purple unicorn with rainbow tail, something that doesn’t exist,” added Hartman-Baker. “Women tend to look at a list like that and if they don’t have 100 percent of all of those qualifications they’re not going to apply. With men, it’s 40 percent. If they have 40 percent, they will apply.”

Micron’s Richard Murphy added that in his experience teaching undergraduate classes, even when the smartest person in the class is a woman, the person most likely to answer a question is a guy who was guessing. “So it does not surprise me that a woman would look at a list like that and think they had to check all of those boxes,” he said.

Toni Collis, EPCC and Women in HPC

Research conducted by Women in HPC backs up this point. A study done with International HPC Summer School applicants found that even with similar experience levels, women would consistently rate themselves lower than men when asked to rate their knowledge of skills.

“I think one of the barriers is when we present it as ‘you must be an expert’,” said Toni Collis, director of Women in HPC. “How many times have we read a job description where you must be an expert in MPI, and how many women would call themselves an expert compared to their male colleagues?”

Cristin Merrit, Alces Flight

Cristin Merrit, partner manager for Alces Flight, questioned the wisdom of gatekeeping based on formal technical education. “When you are hiring for pre-sales, you are already asking for hen’s teeth. You don’t want to shrink your pool before you even get out the door.” Here, cover letters allow applicants to explain their background and skill sets when they don’t fit traditional boxes.

In wrapping up the networking event, Collis shared, “It’s all well and good HR telling us what to do, but if it’s not working for us why are we doing it?”

“You’re here because you get this, right?” Collis told the audience. “The people who really need to be here aren’t here. So I ask you to go and be ambassadors for Women in HPC as an initiative. If you aren’t already a member, join right now and get your male colleagues to join.”

Membership for individuals is free and includes a monthly newsletter with updates on what Women in HPC is doing and why they’re doing it which is the crucial thing, according to Collis.

“I wake up every morning to change the world — that’s why I get out of bed in the morning, that’s why I do this,” said Collis. “Don’t get me wrong — it’s fantastic that occasionally I get to play with the fastest machines in the world, but the reason I do it is because I’m here to change the world. I think as a community, HPC and supercomputing, we spend an awful lot of time telling people outside of our community and the taxpayers at the end of the day that we do it because we can make this big machine; we forget the why, we forget the science that it enables, we forget the fact that really we can save lives with climate change studies and with weather prediction and so much more. We can do so much with HPC, but we don’t sell that message enough. And if we sell that message, it’s not just going to improve the situation with funding, it’s going to bring in women.

“I always use my husband as an example here,” Collis continued. “He’s in HPC as well. We’re two sides of the same coin. He is a computer scientist at heart, it’s where he belongs. He wakes up every morning because he just loves coding. I mean he just can’t get enough of it. I wake up every morning to change the world, the coding is just something that happens. But I do this because of what it can do and everybody is here for a different reason, but if we’re only given one side of it, the coding side, we’re missing a huge swath of people who are attracted by the fact that we make a difference. So please go away and be an ambassador.”

Women in HPC is entirely funded by donations and support, including the support of EPCC who set up Women in HPC. The Women in HPC luncheon was made possible through the support of ISC, PRACE, Lenovo and Xand McMahon. Find out more about Lenovo’s initiative to encourage gender diversity in the workplace at www.lenovowomen.com.

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!

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a community infrastructure in support of machine learning research Read more…

By John Russell

DARPA Continues Investment in Post-Moore’s Technologies

July 24, 2017

The U.S. military long ago ceded dominance in electronics innovation to Silicon Valley, the DoD-backed powerhouse that has driven microelectronic generation for decades. With Moore's Law clearly running out of steam, the Read more…

By George Leopold

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in 2017 with scale-up production for enterprise datacenters and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Servers Deliver High Performance Remote Visualization

Whether generating seismic simulations, locating new productive oil reservoirs, or constructing complex models of the earth’s subsurface, energy, oil, and gas (EO&G) is a highly data-driven industry. Read more…

Trinity Supercomputer’s Haswell and KNL Partitions Are Merged

July 19, 2017

Trinity supercomputer’s two partitions – one based on Intel Xeon Haswell processors and the other on Xeon Phi Knights Landing – have been fully integrated are now available for use on classified work in the Nationa Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a comm Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's out Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the com Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provid Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Satellite Advances, NSF Computation Power Rapid Mapping of Earth’s Surface

July 13, 2017

New satellite technologies have completely changed the game in mapping and geographical data gathering, reducing costs and placing a new emphasis on time series Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia and Tiffany Jolley

Intel Skylake: Xeon Goes from Chip to Platform

July 13, 2017

With yesterday’s New York unveiling of the new “Skylake” Xeon Scalable processors, Intel made multiple runs at multiple competitive threats and strategic Read more…

By Doug Black

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 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

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. Just how close real-wo 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 a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 cam Read more…

By John Russell

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

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Leading Solution Providers

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

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

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

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 Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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