Amid the resounding success of the SC23 “I am HPC” theme, HPCwire learned of an offensive T-shirt displayed on the show floor. The shirt in question is shown below. The image has been disarmed by removing the vendor and part of the message.
We are unsure if the offending T-shirt is part of the booth swag giveaway or just the booth decor. In either case, the T-shirt is offensive and a very old, unfunny trope many thought was long gone from the high-performance community.
There is a code of conduct for all SC participants, which states in part:
“The SC Conference is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. “
Often, a joke, told or shared between friends, can be offensive to others. We may view the joke from our “blind spot,” assuming it is not offensive to others because it was not offensive to us (usually because we are not the joke’s target). Our words shape our intention, and intention lands on others in ways we may not understand, often unsafely.
The presence of the shirt was offensive and violated that policy. AJ Lauer, a long-time SC participant, told HPCwire, “Shirts with sexualized language do not belong in the inclusive conference space SC is striving to create. I’m disappointed that a vendor thought this joke was appropriate for the conference.”
Subjects like diversity, inclusion, and harassment are challenging problems in many walks of life. We can do better in a conference full of people whose profession is to solve the world’s most challenging computational problems in science and technology. And like the first time we learned about differential equations or writing MPI code, there was a learning process. We can learn together and SC23 is a great teacher.
Let’s return to this great event that becomes even greater the more inclusive and safe we make this community.
I am HPC.