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SC16 Chair Calls for HPC Organizations to Create Diversity Pages

John West, TACC

John West, TACC

High Performance Computing has long been dominated by men, but there seems to be little hard data as to how our HPC community really looks in terms of diversity. Over at TOP500.org, John West calls for every HPC center, company, and research organization to create a diversity page that reflects the current state of their institution.

It will seem intuitively obvious that we increase our odds of getting the better solutions if we increase the number of good ideas available to choose from, but there is more than intuition here. A study summarized in Harvard Business Review – and others like it, some of which are highlighted in a recent New York Times article – demonstrate that teams with more women produce better results (translating these findings into the construction of more effective teams, and understanding the degree to which other dimensions of diversity are a factor, are areas of ongoing research).

West goes on to concede that this is not an easy task, so he is going forward by leading by example:

I have enough experience managing large programs to know this is easier to say than to actually get done. You’ll have to have your legal review the data, your HR person will freak out, your PR person won’t like you, and you’ll have to convince your boss or your board that it’s a good idea. But it IS a good idea, because without these data none of those in a position to fund programs that might broaden our workforce have the data to justify doing so. And creating a more diverse workplace is one of the very few things we can do that we know will produce better answers to the challenges we face. I’ll go first:  I am volunteering as the general chair of SC16, and I pledge that when my conference year officially starts at the conclusion of SC15 in November, my website will launch with diversity data on the SC volunteer community. If you’re reading this in the future, go check it out at sc16.supercomputing.org/diversity, and ask yourself why you don’t already have a page like this.

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