Are women underrepresented in the High Performance Computing (HPC) community?

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Are women underrepresented in the High Performance Computing (HPC) community?
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This study is the first attempt to understand the current gender demographics of the HPC community, and identify potential reasons and ways to tackle the gender imbalance. By listening to the people who constitute the community, the study offers a guideline on what the HPC community should focus on in order to become more attractive, accessible and useful to everyone.
Keywords Diversity
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so so I'm asking friends Anna thank you for introducing me and thank you all for being here um so that's the title of my
talk but first a little bit about who I am and why I'm here so I'm a former
scientist and I have just completed my PhD on women's representation and
experiences in the high-performance computing and here I am celebrating the passing of my father so I'm a tireless advocate of equality diversity and inclusion in STEM through my projects and the organizations I'm active member of so here I am talking about my work on Wikipedia and Here I am pretending to be
a robot for an outreach activity and so last year I attended the women's event
of your Python in Edinburgh where I had some excellent discussions about women in computing and programming and I
believe this is the reason I'm here today however I have to admit that when I first got the invitation to be a keynote speaker my first reaction was I'm not a programmer so why do you want me that when I started my research more
than four years ago the topic of gender in stem in the generate balance in stem who was not as hot as it is now there has been a crazy sudden focus on that topic and so many initiatives projects and individuals appear to care about it and try to solve the issue most of the times by trying to increase the number of women in the workplace panels or else
thinking and hoping that this is the solution of the problem so I believe I was reasonably answer and suspicious when I was called to be a keynote speaker at the program programming conference with as far as I'm aware a low number of women and as far as I can see in here after a chat I had with the chair of the program group I understood that the European group actually care and they want to discuss about gender gender imbalance and raise awareness so I'm particularly happy to be here and share my research findings with you today so why gender imbalance is important and we need to talk about it apart from the obvious reasons of equal opportunities
and a larger variety of options for all research has shown that gender balanced teams demonstrate better performance and better collaborations among team members and higher productivity in comparison to male or female dominated teams it has also been noted that gender diversity could take research to different roots which might lead to new discoveries improve the quality of products and cover all needs for example there is a project which addresses the limitation of understanding diseases diseases and developing the most effective treatments due to gender balance in medical research finally there has been a high demand in STEM jobs and it is expected to grow even more in the future and report so that it will be difficult to fill in these positions due to limited talent pool so what has been done to
achieve gender balance the gender imbalance system as I said earlier might be a currently hot topic but it's not
new very various policies and strategies have been developed to tackle that identified barriers that girls and women meet while studying or pursuing a career in stem providing data that so the low numbers of women in STEM related subject is key to raise awareness and motivate
action for improvement outreach programs which encourage girls and expose them to STEM careers and female role models have
been proved to have a positive effect on girls and girls interest and engagement particularly role models seem to help girls change their stereotypical views on STEM careers and to help women mentoring also seem to have a positive impact on women's confidence and progression equal diversity and inclusion and unconscious bias training is one of the most popular strategies institution and companies use to raise awareness and reduce biases however even though some studies show the trainings these trainings have a positive effect a lot of reports indicate that such trainings have no or little impact or sometimes even negative impact an important conclusion of those reports is that for such trainings to have a significant in
positive impact on gender balance they must be part of a wider program of actions finally since maternity leave and caring responsibilities have been identified as obstacles for women to advance in their career the third parental leave policy has been introduced but its effect on gender equality has not been established yet however all those policies and strategies do seem to have a positive
impact but have they affected the number of women in STEM the latest statistics so that there is a small increase of female student enrollments instead subject in comparison to last year or the year before but still the numbers of female students are too small in comparison to male ones for example
according to the higher education statistics 2000 more female students enrolled in computer science in the year 2017 2018 in comparison to 2015-2016 but similarly a lot more female students added to the already very high number
this statistics is for the UK by the way
so all the informations from mentioned and my personal experiences and the fact that there there was no previous study or report sorry I just lost my talk No thank you I'm also not an experienced
speaker thank you so my personal experience and the fact that there was no previous study or report on the gender balance tattoos of the HPC community even though it's an interesting area that spans vary stem
and non-stem subjects motivated the establishment of the women in HPC network and my research on this topic women in HPC is a network that brings women of the community together promote and support them and raise awareness on equality diversity inclusion matters since then he talked anecdotally and traditionally the majority of HPC users and technical experts have a stem background I hypothesized that there is a high chance for women to be underrepresented in the HPC community however that's a further investigation so I wanted to find out if the same or similar reasons and obstacles as for women in stem keep women away from HPC or if there are specific problems within the community for this I firstly attempted to demonstrate evidence that women are underrepresented in HPC and then to identify reasons and ways of improvement to obtain a first picture of the women in the HPC community I decide to examine historical demographics of two different settings which are potentially educators of the participation and contribution of women in the community I'd have some issues with I joined analyzed not the names of
more than 27,000 participants at major HPC related conferences as well as more specialist conferences that concern HPC related topics I examined the numbers of women participated as keynote speakers
paper and poster authors and presenters works workshop and tutorial organizers and presenters and committee members and
attendees also since programming is considered traditionally as one of the basic skills that one needs to use the HPC facilities I calculated the participation of women and men to training courses for HPC users and/or developers provided by Archer UK's national supercomputing service I collected an adult analyzed data from five years and very various levels and courses for example level one includes introduction to HPC level two scientific programming with Python and level 3 advanced MPI from the conference data
analysis I found that women were fewer than men in all categories of participation on average I found that
there were nine percent female paper authors zero to one female invited speakers for every four male 7 to 12 female percent female poster authors and one female work supported other tutorial presenter for every 8 to 11 male an important finding that six further research is that in the cases where women in HP CEO diversity committees were active there was an increase of women for example at the for computing conference in USA female invited speakers increased from 30 percent in 2013 to 46 percent in 2016 we believe that the appointment of a Diversity Committee by the supercomputing conference is the reason for this improvement from a total of 667 and analyzed courses I found that women were outnumbered three to one by men at all levels from the analysis of the same data I also found that women had much higher attendance frequency at level one courses women were identified more as users than developers from their choice of courses and their difficulty rating increased gradually with the course levels similarly with the conference's I noticed that course is organized by women in HPC attracted more women for example at eleven one course organized by women need to be seen in 2015 there were 24 female participants and only one male participant service can produce data for both quantitative and qualitative analysis I decided to run a survey for the HPC community to discuss our so far findings and hypotheses and gather evidence that added to our quantitative results as well as 25 Arya's for further investigation and improvement in the community some of the most important findings from the analysis of the survey data are that most men and women come from stem background and they believe that there is a net present representation of women in HPC women are less likely than men to receive training programming training and develop their own software and also women are more likely to be affected by parent who travel less to conferences feel discriminated in being interested in having a mentor and feel that they belong in minority group finally a very important finding is that there were clear differences in training and software development tendency between the stem and the non stem groups that means that people who have a stem background receive more training and they develop more their own software in comparison to people that come from non STEM subjects this is of great importance because it supports the hypothesis that people from non-stem background do not receive enough or at all programming training which might be one of the obstacles that keep these people from using HPC facilities for the research and this can have an impact on the gender balance of the community since non STEM subjects tend to have better gender balance finally for gaining an
in-depth understanding of the experiences of the people of the HPC community I conducted interviews and focus group discussions hearing from a total of 48 people about their background and the relation to HPC HPC community personal stories and views help me support and interpret my previous findings and stimulate new ideas or hypotheses for future work similarly here the majority of interviewees come from a stem subject believe that there is an under presentation of women and the reasons are similar to the reasons for women to be underrepresented in STEM subjects with stereotypes and discrimination being top in the list additionally some really important findings came of this research method the lack of formal training and earlier exposure to HPC are major barriers for entering the HPC community especially to people for especially for people coming from non-computational background here you can see some of the codes from the interviewees indeed most of the participants reported that they're self-taught in programming and that the training provided is not adequate however women as soon as they start programming and using SPC they prefer computational research rather than theory or lab based a lot of women complained about the lack of support and the unfriendly male-dominated technician environment as well as the language being used being too technical for people not coming from compute computational background but probably the most serious HPC specific problem is that the HPC community and its development seem to be focused more on the power and the size of the machines rather than the science they are used for and the users needs this image makes the community fairly unattractive to some and mostly to women also it was it was called as a closed club by many interviewees that is only open to specific people and projects from specific backgrounds other important findings from the qualitative method including interviewees positive view on mentoring and role models their negative view on current equality diversity and inclusion training and their suggestions for improving the communities gender balance with main ones being programming to schools and all disciplines outreach promotion of female role models chains of perception of stem and HPC as something hard and something that is not related to real life so what are the main conclusions of this study and how can we use these findings are women in HPC actually underrepresented yes they aren't represented in the HPC community the quantitative approach to my study revealed a clear under presentation of women at conferences and courses of the HPC community intentionally from the other methods it was clear that the majority of the HPC community belongs to the stem group which supported our hypothesis that women must be underrepresented in the HPC community since statistics show that they are underrepresented in most of the in the most of the STEM subjects consequently the reasons of these under-representation are mostly similar to those that caused the low numbers of women in stem however as we said earlier HPC has its own obstacles for women with main ones the the inadequate formal training and the image of HPC so what do we need to focus on to attract and retain more women in the HPC community programming and commuting in generally we know we know what the problems are we need to act in the right ways to solve the problem and hopefully improve the situation we need to understand and make clear why gender balance and equality and diversity inclusion are important and how to achieve them and not just rely on changing the numbers artificially and force it to happen we need to break the stereotypes of stem programming and computing by offering exposure to these subjects and to female role models as soon as possible as early as possible and create equal opportunities as we mentioned earlier a lot of initiatives policies and strategies exist but if they don't act collaboratively and if we don't measure the impact and evaluate them they cannot have the desirable effects finally there will always be obstacles men who don't think that there is an issue women who like to be seen as special people who take advantage of this imbalance we should not let them stop the progress we should fight them with evidence produce reports and published data promote equality diversity and inclusion and evaluate your actions engage men and senior staff change the future thank you [Applause]
thank you very much I'd like to thank the University of Edinburgh for funding
my research and women in HPC Network for initiating it and also would like to thank the committee for inviting me here today and all of you who were interested enough to attend my talk so early in the morning thank you
[Applause] I don't know what's happening so guys if
you have questions for Athena this is the time to shine people thanks for the talk in the
metrics that you show for indicators for for gender imbalance or I missed one that I have seen in some conferences which is the ratio of people participating in in Q&A oh yeah yeah which i think is very interesting also for highlighting the difference between the artificially gender balance and the real gender balance so many times in in conference that are aware of the problem they they balance the the speakers but at the end the Q&A are like yeah so I so I try to see that as well but I didn't
have enough date of that because to actually gather data for this I had to attend all the conferences and you know like writing down the numbers so I did but it wasn't enough to prove something but the ones the ones I did actually there wasn't a significant difference from the questions women asked and men asked but it's not enough to draw a conclusion I'm afraid so just point this maybe this would this would be a nice improvement in the inter PyCon
conferences just to have someone in the organization taking note of the gender and make sure yes that's what I meant by
publishing data and you know gather evidence yeah that's I totally agree with you thank you we have actually we are doing this especially for speakers so what we also for data protection we not necessarily ask for a jam and in the submission so we usually do
sistex on guessing on the first names and doing some research so we do care a lot good thank you yeah that's how I did it I guessed it from the first name as
you said because of data protection which makes my job harder so of course that has a little threat of validity there because yes I used an API to a platform with first names but of course there is always up ok so making a mistake ok we have one more question
again yes I am you mentioned by then that there are those who would take advantage of the gender imbalance can you clarify a little bit because it doesn't seem to be any advantage at all in this I'm happy to clarify that so
from my experience because I mean this area of trying to solve the problem of the code everest inclusion so i had i have been involved with many projects and what i have noticed is that even though there are a lot of there's a lot of funding right now that is been given to two projects that try to solve this problem the problem seemed not to be solved so it's not very nice to say that but i'm afraid that there are people that just want to these two to be perpetuated just because two they receive funding it's very hard to say that and not very nice but it happens unfortunately so some people take advantage of that and also some people try to promote themselves by pretending that they are advocates of equal diversity inclusion and actually just do it to put it in their CV it happens I'm afraid I hope that covered we have one
more question and by the way if you have questions please come forward to the microphones sorry I can't see you yeah there's one question here in the front ok hello I was just wondering if you have like concrete tip the euro patent could implement next year to help to the first II yeah so from apart from what we said already that gather data gender data and
it would be good to have I don't know if these years if these gear you have a women in that event here like the one I attended last year in and Umbra I think you don't so that was really nice so that would be nice to to have an event where all women can gather but also I wrote an article about that last year and I asked men as well to attend it because it's really important to have men as well at this event so they can see you know mingle
with women of the community and in the nice way and see what the problems are
and what what they can do to help them hi hi so first of all thank you very much and yes we just we don't have this
year this this event we also attended last year but I'm glad that we decided to have a plenary talk so that everyone could actually attend and I mean listen to this topic but my question is you mentioned that training for unconscious bias and I was wondering if you have any tips on how to actually handle this because this is often I find also in my field in in physics one of the most atrocious problems yeah so you have attended an enclosed advice training no I well I mean I have listened yes ii talked i've studied on my own but i would like to understand if there's if you have tips on how to give training on the unconscious bias and so
from my experience the majority of the people I talked with from the HPC community they as I mentioned in my talk they had a negative opinion on those trainings equality diversity inclusion and unconstant for example the University of Edinburgh offers an online training which is like literally taking the box of yeah we did that okay you don't learn anything you don't understand the problems you don't understand what to do to solve the problem so I think definitely no to online training so the best is to have like proper tree training in a class with people that they are experts in equality versus inclusion and consider bias and the other thing that I found from talking with people from HP's community it's that they would like to have like tailored trainings that concern the community's problems and not generic equal diversity inclusion and conscious bias training that you know they have to include the problems of the community like the ones I mentioned and how to deal with those and not just general yes we are all equal that's all okay I hope that helped we have one more question at the end over there I thank you for your excellent talking and
rising the question it's kind of funny that see that our social concerns start clashing with each other like you need data about gender to your research but some people consider that disclosing gender is maybe some kind of discrimination and people also finds the against binary gender die define moment are accepted five genders or just you not disposal well just I think it's good that our concerns are are becoming so much that start clashing with with each other however my question it's true that is a gender imbalance across the society particularly in technical jobs particularly in IT there is some very nice initiatives like young girls by ladies that try to find that do you think that gender imbalance in HPC it's worse than in IT in general do you think that fixing contributing to gender balance in IT will automatically fix a gender imbalance in HPC or it will become some sort of different field thank you and yes so as I said earlier
so HPC is a niche in computing so of course he has the same problems that any other computing area but through my research I found that has two specific problems as well that it's a very closed Club as my interviewees said it and it only accepts people that they have already a background or a computational background and people that actually would like to do computational research but don't have the background for them is really difficult to get in the HPC community so the training is really important to offer more training for programming training in general and how to use HPC facility specifically and then also change this image of HPC that's something really out of the world and just try to promote the uses the applications of HPC so I think HPC has to deal with those two as well as well as everything else I hope that your question yeah yeah so that's why we have women in HBC Network that's what they try to do okay we have one more question over here thank you it was amazing I'm not an HPC I'm just a developer but I've also noticed that there are many women in this field and of course I personally would like to help with that and I've noticed several movements in training young women and there are also a lot of conferences and talks for us but I was wondering whether
you think that these gatherings help bringing more women into the field or is just something that for us to pat ourselves on the back saying yeah good for us yeah I understand your question yeah so yeah as I said every action and every policing strategy cannot solve the problem by itself it needs to be a collaborative work we have to do all together constantly to have an actual impact so the women in vents are really good as you said for women to gather and
talk with each other and help each other but as I said earlier I would like to see more men as well as women events because at the moment there are some women conferences and there are no men's men at all there and that really doesn't help the situation because sorry to say that but mainly men are the problem in this case sorry I'm being too honest so yes so I think they're good we need
to keep those but we need a lot more to happen at the same time so we can see a natural change improvement thank you and
we have one more question over there thank you for your talk I caught the tail end of it really just say that one point I'm involved in teaching of the
younger people and I find that there is very little difference or no difference between girls and boys in the level of interest and enthusiasm and competence in these matters a young age so I'm wondering at what age do these differences begin to manifest and also have there been studies which have been undertaken at in different regions of the world and you know is there any region of the world which is more ahead than others with respect to these matters yep thank you so as I said
earlier from my research I found that women that had no programming background when they actually started using programming they preferred programming they preferred computational research than lab or theory based one so that showed to me that women actually liked computing and programming so the stereotype that women are not interested in computing I don't think it exists so about the age now don't know if I'm the right person to answer that so I have done some research on that but I think I think it really depends on the teachers and the parents and the stereotypes that children receive from society so that applies as well to the area that you mentioned so it depends on how you grow up and what you receive from from the society you grow up so it's a little bit of a hard question I don't think that it has been this question has been answered yet from research sorry I didn't help very much we have one question here I think many people are not aware enough
of this issue and my question would be is there any advice that you would give to male developers or stem community in order to improve situation I'm so apart from being nice being nice to women and particularly women and people in general because again from my research I found that it's not only women that have the
issue I mentioned earlier about the people that come from non-stem backgrounds and that includes men as well that don't have computational background so if we make the computing world a little bit friendlier people that are not computing nerds oh and we changed a little bit of language we use and help them to be part of this world because I think computing is now everywhere and it's good for everyone to to know how to use it how to program but apart from that again as I said earlier it's good to listen to women to attend women's event and try to understand the problem and mostly understand why do we need gender balance and how would that help them as well how would that help productivity and the project to become better and world to become better so yeah I think trying to understand and not be like okay not this again I don't want to talk about this again and it's fine and women are not interested because that's not the case thank you we have one more question thank you very much for the keynote is a
really good talk it also one thing that you mentioned really um make me think like you said that we should invite men to attend women events because I'm also like me to organizers back in London and then also I organize events for like specifically is for gentlemen Ortiz in Texas ite like many women who attend there's always debate among like other organizers whether we should allow men into these events because um I have heard different feedbacks about these like for example male participant they were like oh we don't feel that comfortable like I think it's like opening a door to a different situation because we are used to like events being mainly dominated by men and then it kind of made me think that what the line we should draw in this kind of way because um because sometimes I also know that women prefer a event to be purely just like women to attend so they feel safe they feel that they won't have some kind of they say like male toxic nurse in the room or something so um yes I really make me think like where we should draw this line to to make an event that's like it's nice for everybody and but also and how empowering women to feel that they are not like a minority and weaker gender in the tech society what do you think yeah so that's that's
that's really a good question and I had this exact discussion last year when I wrote that article and I said that the work actually there were a couple of men there and you were there were a couple of men at being a women's event and I had very good discussions I I was mostly talking to mine so it was really nice because I understood what they think about it and obviously for them to be there they seem to be interested in the topic so I found it good but then I had people sent commenting on my article and saying like oh we don't want to come to this women's events because we want women to feel comfortable as you said like oh yeah so they can talk about their stuff but their stuff is your stuff as well I mean it's it's for everyone so I my opinion is that all events should be open to everyone and now watch the language okay so I mean if you're nice so you don't have to go there as a crazy feminist and say yeah you toxic man we don't want you here because we want them we want them here we want them to to come and listen and we find the solution altogether thank you sorry I don't have a question but I wanted to give suggested reading for anybody who is interested in the topic so there's the this website called
the heterodox Academy org and they have amazing literature review that will you are all the topics they relate to are gender differences and increased male variability hypothesis and all these elements that tend to be ignored in these discussions so very good reading okay can you say it again heterodox Academy dot org okay thank thanks thank
you and one question over here no I just that regarding like the events I think
it's very nice to have it open to everyone has you were saying and if you as a man feel uncomfortable in being an environment where there are many women well welcome because that's actually the first step to understand also exactly how women feel in most situations in which they are at most any conference because it's actually proven there's data as say someone was asking at least for the you for for Europe again say how this is distributed according to topics according to how the level of the hierarchy increases yes so it's actually quite balanced already at the level of PhD usually in all disciplines and then it gets worse and worse with leadership that's also the under-representation that again gets worse winny responsibilities so I think it's really good and as again another tip that was mentioned which I found I think in many situations it's not nice for say women to intervene all the time when something happens which is not correct so if your men as the tip and you assist to a situation which is unfair or which again you notice that shouldn't happen I think or I mean read and I would like to hear your opinion on that that what you could do as a man is to intervene but to intervene not to defend or protect the woman but to address the person who is behaving incorrectly and demonstrate and show and explain to that person why that is incorrect so it's not about defending the woman but it's to intervene in place also of the women on the data on what's happening and on why that situation should not just take place yeah that's I totally agree and that's what we need to
learn at those equality diversity inclusion trainings this is this kind of situations like examples and case studies of how we can act and react when something like this happened thank you for this and I've heard of many programs where they were specifically looking for women to mentor girls or young women do you know
anything of the impact of mentoring programs depending on the mantas being male or female is it better to have a female mentor for girls or young women or is it good to have a male mentor as well mm-hmm yes that's a good question so
from my experience and through my research I found that women prefer to have women mentors because obviously they can understand better their problems now if they can help them with the problems I don't know but usually that's the case so my opinion is it would be good to have men mentor male mentors as well especially senior senior staff male members because it is good to bring them together with young female to to show them to guide them better I think so how to get to a leadership position because usually men are have more leadership positions but I'm not sure if I don't think there is any study yet that shows that that's better or worse I'm not sure about that and so I have I had a women mentor and she helped me a lot so my experience it's not helpful so yeah but
also about mentoring is really important
to understand the the difference between formal and informal mentoring because sometimes we confuse formal mentoring as you said you mentioned that there is a specific program that run from the company or the institution you work and usually people do that again as they do they call them diversity inclusion trainings like taking the box and not really caring so I I from my experience again I think that informal training that finding someone that you think that that someone can help you it doesn't matter if it's men or men or women that problem is more helpful than the formal program mentoring programs thank you do we have more questions for our speaker today well if we don't have any further questions let's have a very very warm applause for Athena [Applause]