The last two weeks of September were quite busy for me, as I participated in three different events featuring three distinct talks across three different fields. Each event required also preparation from my side and interaction with various audiences.

What can I say, for those who know me, it’s no secret that I enjoy talking, but each time before my talk, I could not shake the feeling, this feeling of self-doubt creeping in. I’d ask myself, „What am I doing here? Look at all these guys so brilliant and well-prepared. I feel like I have no idea of anything, and they’ll surely see right through me, I‘m a fraud!“

Now, is this feeling something only women experience? Absolutely not. However, when it comes to women, there is undoubtedly something else in there. Afterwards, with each event, I had the impression it went great, I even had fun, but girl, that sinking sensation before…

In the first event, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on optimization and energy saving in HPC centres during the Annual Users Conference of the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES) in Barcelona. The discussion was fantastic, and I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the great women behind the first Spanish WHPC Chapter.

Fast forward and I am in Berlin, where I attended the first NHR Conference. Once again, I was invited to join a panel discussion, this time on „Women in HPC: Empowering Future Careers“ featuring some incredible speakers. Among the various thought-provoking ideas discussed, the concept of a computer science course exclusively for women caught my attention. I must confess, I have mixed feelings about this, but what surprised me was that about 50% of the women who took this course admitted that they wouldn’t have pursued computer science if it weren’t for this female-only option. I believe this speaks volumes about the environment you fear you might find in such a class (a mixed regular one I mean)—perhaps toxic, unwelcoming, or isolating for women? I honestly don’t know, but it’s certainly food for thought.

1st NHR Conference – Panel Discussion „Women in HPC: Empowering Future Careers“ – Foto: ALOI.PHOTO

The last event was online, which allowed me to participate from the comfort of my home. (Sigh, traveling is fun, but it’s also exhausting, and managing home and (hopefully not sick) kids, with travel can be stressful.) My colleague Arpad and I had the opportunity to explain our work with the LOFAR community as part of the „Wissenschaft online“ series hosted by Forschungszentrum Jülich. This was a tad different from the in-person events but was certainly a valuable experience.

With this last event, my event marathon came to a close, at least for the moment. However, it doesn’t mean I’m bored right now. There’s always something in the pipeline — starting with everything that has piled up in the inbox, on the desk and at home while traveling.

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About Cristina Manzano

Cristina Manzano is a telecommunications engineer working in JSC since 2009. She partipated developing the long term archive for the radio astronomy community LOFAR and continues working on said archive as well as in other distributed data and parallel file system projects. Mother-of-two, she doesn't find easy to juggle motherhood and work and hobbies and friendship and… she needs sometimes to remind herself to just breath.

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