Our esteemed colleague Brian has been in the HPC field for quite a while now. In case you’re reading this, Brian, I’m not calling you old! Only experienced 😉 He’s seen many things (in his own words), and lately, he felt particularly annoyed by a picture taken at the International Supercomputing Conference 2022 of our JSC delegation.

Picture ISC 2022 JSC delegation

In Placebo’s words, „What’s wrong with this picture?“ Right, yes, we have exactly one woman here, our brave Estela.

To be fair, Kristel Michielsen was also there and part of our delegation, but she couldn’t make it for the picture. Still, 2 out of 16 is sad… It’s honestly kind of embarrassing and doesn’t represent the current gender distribution at our institute. As of 2022 we had 38% women working here, which is not 50-50 but hey, we’re working slowly but surely to get there. Although if we want to be completely forthcoming, as my colleague Anna pointed out when I showed her these numbers, if we only count scientists and PhD students, more likely to attend such events, the statistics are a bit more somber with only 22% of women…

For context, there are two big supercomputing conferences every year (there are of course more but these two are for us kind of the big-deal-you-don’t-want-to-miss-if-you-are-in-the-field ones): the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) happening around June in Germany and the Supercomputing Conference (SC) in the USA, usually in November.

So, later in 2022, the picture thing got a bit better:

Picture SC 2022 JSC delegation
Picture ISC 2023 JSC delegation

And again, in autumn 2023, meh:

Picture SC 2023 JSC delegation

And this is wrong, feels wrong, and we want to change it.

Also, it doesn’t do justice to the work our great female colleagues do in the field of HPC. Over the last few years, we’ve had talks like the Distinguished Talk from Kristel Michielsen during ISC 2019, and the Keynote from Estela Suarez during ISC 2023 (we discussed it here). We had Chelsea John presenting her work at ISC and SC 2023 (also mentioned in our blog post), we had the Invited Talk by Sandra Diaz during SC 2023, and I’m surely forgetting others. We want more of this. We want future pictures to represent this better and be more balanced.

So, we thought, what can we do to change this? Well, we could start by giving visibility (I really like that word; I think I use it a lot), we could use the platform conferences like ISC and SC already offer to showcase the great women working in HPC, the real Super(computing)heroes. And see, if by doing so, we can inspire others, especially early-career women, to dare and participate, to join.

And so, the idea for a BoF (Birds of a Feather) session was born (with a bit of pushing motivation from Brian ;)). And here we are, having successfully applied for and in the meantime busy refining and finalizing the event’s planning together with colleagues from BSC (Marta Garcia), Do IT Now (Elisabeth Ortega), and IT4Innovations (Karina Pesatova). We have (I think I’m allowed to say it) an impressive list of international female speakers, and we want to hear from them about their amazing work and – using Eli’s words – make them shine!

Link to our BoF Super(computing)heroes ISC 2024 session

And we also want to invite you, dear reader, to have your voice heard and contribute to the BoF. Is there something you’d like to ask these amazing women? You can leave your questions in the comments or write to us directly at juwinhpc-contact@fz-juelich.de.

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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