Women in HPC: fostering diversity at SC23

12 December 2023

Women in HPC events returned to Supercomputing with a bang this year, and with resounding success! 

Woman speaking at podium beside "Women in HPC" banner

The WHPC Workshop room reached full capacity, tickets for the networking reception were in high demand, and the Diversity Day tshirts disappeared as soon as the exhibition floor opened. 

As a Women In HPC (WHPC) supporter, the EPCC booth helped to distribute WHPC merchandise, participated in the student scavenger hunt, and I served as the WHPC workshop submissions co-chair. 

Sixteenth Annual WHPC Workshop at SC23 

Traditionally the WHPC workshop series has focused on gender diversity and issues primarily facing women. However this year’s workshop, titled ‘Fostering a diverse and inclusive HPC community’, aimed to increase the emphasis on diversity and inclusion of both women and men from under-represented groups. 

During the workshop we delved into topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) through a line-up of keynote and invited speakers. Discussions highlighted the impact allies can have, strategies for thriving as an 'outsider,' and insights into how larger tech firms are actively fostering DEI. The talks also covered broader subjects including remote working, essential skills for survival in middle management, and strategies for maximizing career impact. 

Early-career series

We then moved into the afternoon session which highlighted contributions from early-career researchers with a series of lightning talks and an interactive networking session. I served as the submissions co-chair to curate the programme of early-career talks and assist on the workshop committee. 

The inclusion of an early-career series gives under-represented groups the opportunity to speak at a major international conference, benefit from a mentoring programme and apply for a travel fellowship to support attendance. Lowering the entry bar also offers early career-researchers vital experiences for career development, facilitating their entry into the growing community and contributing diversity to the SC23 programme, making it a highlight of the workshop. 

Woman speaking at podium to seated group

The Lyceum

Another highlight was the Lyceum, an interactive rotating panel session. This concept was originally launched at ISC23 as a ‘Fishbowl’ panel and takes the traditional conference panel session and upgrades it to improve the diversity of voices and allows participation at all career levels. It was great to hear opinions from voices we wouldn’t usually hear! 

Diversity Day and Networking Reception 

In addition to hosting an annual workshop, WHPC also organises social events for all conference attendees, namely a Diversity Day followed by an evening networking reception. 

Diversity Day is a celebration of diversity in the HPC community where WHPC invites conference attendees to wear their WHPC swag from this or previous years and show their support for increasing the visibility of women and other underrepresented groups. The 2023 Diversity Day tshirt was handed out at the previous evening's Exhibitor Gala and, as a WHPC supporter, EPCC also gave out WHPC swag from its booth. This year’s bright pink tshirts were so popular that they seemed to evaporate the second the exhibition opened! EPCC was also involved in the student scavenger hunt where students had to find a WHPC supporter booth to receive a sticker to complete their quest. 

To finish the Diversity Day celebration, WHPC held a networking reception in the evening - a very sought-after ticket as all sold out 48 hours after release!  

WHPC offers a friendly face to early-career and under-represented attendees at an international conference which can otherwise be quite intimidating. I hope this community continues to thrive and become ever louder in years to come!  

Further information

Women in HPC website: https://womeninhpc.org

Supercomputing 2023 website: https://sc23.supercomputing.org


All images: Jo Ramsey, SC Photography

Presentation at conference to seated audience.


Eleanor Broadway
Eleanor Broadway