SC17 Preview: Q&A with Women in HPC’s Toni Collis

By Tiffany Trader

October 31, 2017

HPCwire interviews Women in HPC’s Toni Collis about the importance of diversity and inclusion in high-performance computing. An Applications Consultant in HPC Research and Industry at Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) and also SC17’s Inclusivity Chair, Collis co-founded the Women in HPC (WHPC) network in early 2014 in the UK, with the intention of providing a UK network for women. A half-day workshop at SC14 in New Orleans jump-started the organization’s international activities, which have since expanded considerably. At SC17, the group hosts multiple BoFs, evening networking events and a mentoring program. “Women in HPC is truly an international network of volunteers from academia, industry and national labs from all around the world,” says Collis.

HPCwire: What is the unifying theme for this year’s SC WHPC activities?

Toni Collis

Toni Collis: At SC17 WHPC has a program aimed at enhancing the careers of women at all stages of their careers by providing them with a platform to showcase their work, and also to provide a wide variety of female role models, which both inspire women, but also help to address any implicit bias towards the role of women in HPC that both women and men may have. We will also spend a significant time building networking opportunities for women and also providing managers, hirers, leaders and their organisations with both the key facts around diversity and methods to improve diversity and inclusion.

The full list of WHPC activities at SC17 is available on our special SC17 event page https://www.womeninhpc.org/whpc-sc17/. But we also encourage people to join us (http://www.womeninhpc.org/membership/individual/), so they can stay in touch with our monthly newsletter. WHPC is also on Twitter (@women_in_hpc), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/womeninhpc/) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8105215) where we encourage conversation on what methods are effective on improving diversity, what works for the HPC community and seeking new ideas.

If you want to know more about the activities around diversity and inclusion at SC, please take a look at the SC Inclusivity pages http://sc17.supercomputing.org/inclusivity/.

HPCwire: The HPC Matters program, initiated in 2014, raised awareness about the vital role HPC plays in helping make the world a better place. In that same spirit, what is meant by Inclusivity and why does Inclusivity matter?

Collis: The work of the ‘HPC Matters’ message can be incredibly important to improving diversity and inclusion in the community for women and other groups. Many of us need to know that our work has a positive impact on society. What is fascinating is that this is more prevalent in women than men: 50 percent of women report wanting their work to have a positive impact, whereas only 31 percent of men report this as being crucial to their career choices. As we all know, HPC and supercomputing are indeed vitally important to the progress of society, but we all need to make an effort to share this, and not just delve into the (important!) details of what we do.

The SC17 Inclusivity activities were initiated as a recognition of the importance of diversity in our community. There is growing evidence that diversity is good for research and business, increasing ‘team’ or collective IQ, decision making, citation rates, a business’ return on equity and much more. We strongly believe that an individual’s personal characteristics should not be a barrier to participating, but we are also aware that the barrier to participation for anyone who belongs to an underrepresented group in any field can be high. In 2016, SC16’s General Chair, John West, established a Diversity team to look at this from the conference’s perspective: what can the conference do to impact the workforce, and crucially are their things at the conference that currently negatively impact or stall progress towards diversity? For SC17 the Executive and Steering committee wanted to publicly acknowledge that we are going beyond diversity. Diversity is important, but a feeling of inclusion for all can have an even bigger positive impact: our activities will benefit everyone, not just the underrepresented groups.

HPCwire: What are the focus areas of SC17’s Inclusivity program?

Collis: We have three main aims for 2017:

  • Expand our reach and ‘inclusivity’ activities for groups we have already identified as being under-represented in our community, such as women and underrepresented minorities;
  • To find out more about these and other groups, what is impacting them both positively and negatively, and if there are differences with the rest of the community;
  • To encourage a discussion on the importance and benefits of inclusion and diversity across the world-wide supercomputing community.

The SC17 conference on its own cannot change the recruitment and retention of a diverse and inclusive HPC workforce, but I believe that it can meaningfully contribute by sharing the information we find out, and encourage others to measure their demographics, analyse and address the situation in their own institutions.

To achieve these goals we will be continuing and expanding our provision for attendees with children. The conference now has a Child Policy which enables parents to bring their children to the conference, irrespective of their age while protecting the safety of the child. The conference is also continuing and expanding childcare provision and parents facilities, as well as emphasising how to participate in the Family Day. We have brought back the prayer room and we are constantly seeking to improve the attendee experience, both by expanding our ‘navigating SC’ sessions in an online FAQ and during the conference, so attendees can get answers to common concerns ahead of the conference. We also will be seeking feedback from attendees: by monitoring, measuring and understanding the attendee experience we aim to develop the conference to ensure that the environment is as inclusive and diverse as possible.

HPCwire: I’ve asked you this before, but I think it’s important to reiterate: Who is Women in HPC for?

Collis: Women in HPC really is for everyone. Our vision is to address the underrepresentation of women, and we can’t do that without men being involved in the conversation. Our career activities are open to men, and we actively encourage men to attend our events. Crucially the support we offer women is beneficial to everyone, so although we market our activities as ‘Women in HPC’, we welcome attendance from all. By doing this we are not only building a network of women but a community of women and their allies and advocates who can encourage participation by all. Although our mission focuses on women, our work on disseminating change and best practice often applies to multiple areas, and we are also keen to actively engage with other underrepresented groups. More than anything, we are a welcoming and open community and hope to see more men participate in the discussion in Denver.

HPCwire: You’ve said that there’s no perfect way to be a woman in HPC? What does that mean?

Collis: I believe that the benefit of women to the community is not just our numbers but our diversity of experiences, ideas and innovation. Some people talk about giving women the skills to become more like those already in the community (i.e. men), but I believe that we shouldn’t be changing women but instead changing the system that doesn’t recognise the contribution of those that are a little different. There shouldn’t be an ideal or perfect route into HPC: our community thrives on its interdisciplinary ideas and applications. Instead we need to recognise that what is important is someone’s potential not whether their CV looks like the rest of the people we work with. If the community recognises this we will also expand the proportion of candidates from other groups, not just women, who can fulfill their potential in the supercomputing workforce.

Our uniqueness and diversity is the key to the benefit to the community and to change women to ‘fit in’ would lose that.

HPCwire: What are some strategies for helping women make the most of their time at technical events?

Collis: The same strategies that apply to men! The difference might be whether women are having the same experience of the conference as men. If you find the event intimidating (many do, and not just women!, as it is such a big conference), realise that you are not alone! Consider finding a ‘buddy’ early on in the conference that you can hang out with. Aim to identify the tech program elements that will be of most benefit to you before you turn up, so you can plan your week and avoid the overwhelming experience of choosing on the day. Don’t be afraid to approach speakers, either by asking a question or contacting them afterwards: doing this with a buddy can be less intimidating. The conference is also a great time to meet people who you have connected with virtually for the first time, but as it is such a busy week contact them before the conference to find a time that works for you both.

If you are a more experienced member of the SC community, you might want to use SC as an opportunity to give back. SC is a great way to provide some informal mentorship and sponsorship. Mentorship and sponsorship can have significant impact on the careers of all, with growing evidence that the mentorship is even more important to women than their male peers. SC can be a great place to meet potential mentors, sponsors and collaborators, whatever your career stage.

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!

At SC19: Bespoke Supercomputing for Climate and Weather

November 20, 2019

Weather and climate applications are some of the most important uses of HPC – a good model can save lives, as well as billions of dollars. But many weather and climate models struggle to run efficiently in their HPC en Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Microsoft, Nvidia Launch Cloud HPC Service

November 20, 2019

Nvidia and Microsoft have joined forces to offer a cloud HPC capability based on the GPU vendor’s V100 Tensor Core chips linked via an InfiniBand network scaling up to 800 graphics processors. The partners announced Read more…

By George Leopold

Hazra Retiring from Intel Data Center Group, Successor Not Known

November 20, 2019

Rajeeb Hazra, corporate VP of Intel’s Data Center Group and GM for the Enterprise and Government Group, is retiring after more than 24 years at the company. At this writing, his successor is unknown. An earlier story on... Read more…

By Doug Black

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU-accelerated computing. In recent years, AI has joined the s Read more…

By John Russell

SC19 Student Cluster Competition: Know Your Teams

November 19, 2019

I’m typing this live from Denver, the location of the 2019 Student Cluster Competition… and, oh yeah, the annual SC conference too. The attendance this year should be north of 13,000 people, with the majority attende Read more…

By Dan Olds

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data Management – The Key to a Successful AI Project

 

Five characteristics of an awesome AI data infrastructure

[Attend the IBM LSF & HPC User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

AI is powered by data

While neural networks seem to get all the glory, data is the unsung hero of AI projects – data lies at the heart of everything from model training to tuning to selection to validation. Read more…

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, remain in first and second place. The only new entrants in t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

At SC19: Bespoke Supercomputing for Climate and Weather

November 20, 2019

Weather and climate applications are some of the most important uses of HPC – a good model can save lives, as well as billions of dollars. But many weather an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hazra Retiring from Intel Data Center Group, Successor Not Known

November 20, 2019

Rajeeb Hazra, corporate VP of Intel’s Data Center Group and GM for the Enterprise and Government Group, is retiring after more than 24 years at the company. At this writing, his successor is unknown. An earlier story on... Read more…

By Doug Black

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ScaleMatrix and Nvidia Launch ‘Deploy Anywhere’ DGX HPC and AI in a Controlled Enclosure

November 18, 2019

HPC and AI in a phone booth: ScaleMatrix and Nvidia announced today at the SC19 conference in Denver a joint offering that puts up to 13 petaflops of Nvidia DGX Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19’s HPC Impact Showcase Chair: AI + HPC a ‘Speed Train’

November 16, 2019

This year’s chair of the HPC Impact Showcase at the SC19 conference in Denver is Lori Diachin, who has spent her career at the spearhead of HPC. Currently deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Computing Project (ECP), Diachin is also... Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This