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Why WINS Is an Ideal Opportunity for Women in IT Networking

The SC20 WINS program offers a terrific opportunity for women in networking help build the SCinet at the conference, working side-by-side with the world’s leading network and software engineers and top network technology vendors.

The Women in IT Networking at SC program, better known as WINS, was created to remedy the vast gender gap in Information Technology, particularly in network engineering and high-performance computing. When the program started in 2015, 13.93% of SC professional volunteers were women. By 2017, the number climbed to 20.97%. This upward trend is clear, and WINS continues to enable this growth.

SCinet receives excellent WINS participants that come to learn with us, though end up teaching us new ways as well,” says Kevin Hayden, SC20 SCinet Chair and Senior Network Engineer for Argonne National Laboratory. “While it was not a specific goal, 46% of SCinet senior leadership positions are held by women and underrepresented groups this year, as opposed to an average of 25.8% in computer and mathematical occupations in the 2019 US workforce.”

WINS provides selected candidates with travel support, per diem and full access to the SC conference as part of SCinet, SC’s dedicated high-capacity network infrastructure. They join SCinet teams that coincide with their field of interest, where they work side by side with world-leading network and software engineers from diverse labs and universities, as well as top technology manufacturers, to create an incredibly fast, ephemeral network system.

Throughout the WINS program, Wendy Huntoon, former President and CEO of KINBER, has led the selection committee encompassing an excellent group of community leaders,” said Marla Meehl, Section Head of Network Engineering and Telecommunications Section (NETS) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, manager of Front Range GigaPoP (FRGP) for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and Principle Investigator of the NSF Campus Cyberinfrastructure WINS grant.

WINS participants hard at work with their mentors configuring routers & switches

Meehl added, “They do a marvelous job of reviewing the candidates thoroughly, have a detailed ranking process, and make very thoughtful selections. Every year, they have chosen an excellent group of women who have been very successful. They have fine-tuned and improved the process through the years, making sure to address size of organizations, areas of the country, and diversity within WINS.”

An Ideal Opportunity

SCinet has the privilege of working with state-of-the-art and early prototype equipment provided by partner contributors, allowing the network to consistently set a new record for faster connections every year, attaining 4.22 terabits per second in 2019. Hence, SCinet serves as an ideal professional development opportunity for WINS participants to expand their skill sets with new knowledge they can take back to their home institutions. They also meet like-minded peers to network, test new products and engage with during events throughout the week.

Meehl pointed out, “WINS also provides more than SCinet. It provides a focused mentoring and peer experience with other women and leaders who are there to ensure a positive and successful experience. This program also provides follow-up with professional growth experiences in other venues.”

Huntoon, who is a co-PI with Meehl on the NSF WINS grant, confirms that, “Outside of the SCinet experience, which has led to many promotions and some job changes, I think attending the I2 Tech Exchange has also been an excellent experience for a number of WINS participants.”

She continued, “WINS has had great support from I2 in providing this follow-up experience and exposure. It has broadened their professional network, exposure to additional technical knowledge, and raised awareness of them to a broader community.”

When the conference ends, WINS participants report on their experiences, what they learned, and what they found useful, as well as answer targeted questions that are taken into account to drive additional gender diversity outreach efforts. Their reflections are shared with their home institutions, SCinet leadership, project leaders, the Department of Energy/ESnet and NSF.

In this video, Marla Meehl, Section Head of Network Engineering and Telecommunications Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Wendy Huntoon, former President and CEO of KINBER, speak about the value of the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program.

About WINS

Since 2015, the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program has supported talented early-to-mid career women who help build the ephemeral high-speed network that powers the annual SC Conference. WINS is led and co-financed by the National Science Foundation via a grant to UCAR and KINBER, for domestic participants, and ESnet, which supports participants from different backgrounds.

WINS Applications are due May 1, 2020.

Source: Christine Baissac-Hayden at the SC20 Blog

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