Lancaster University: N8 CIR pushes for diversity in High Performance Computing following prestigious accreditation

The N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research (N8 CIR) has officially been recognised as a chapter of Women in High Performance Computing (WHPC), the organisation at the vanguard of promoting women in the HPC community across academia and industry.

At the end of June, the N8 CIR and the N8 Centre of Excellence in High Performance Computing – both of which comprise academics from the N8 Research Partnership, which represents the north’s eight research intensive universities – were informed that their application to become a chapter of the influential group had been successful.

Lancaster University’s N8CIR leads Professor Roger Jones and Dr Chris Jewell welcomed the news.

“Following N8CIR’s recognition as a chapter of Women in HPC, Lancaster is proud to be a member of N8’s continuing strategy to promote the work of women in quantitative science. This reflects our continuing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in STEM subjects, and highlights the important scientific research carried out by all our staff and students.”

Through the application process the N8 CIR committed itself to:

· Addressing the issue of gender balance within N8 CIR

· Improving the gender balance at workshops by identifying barriers that women face when applying for places

· Identifying and challenging reasons why there are so few women in senior roles in the HPC community and raising the profile of people from underrepresented groups through case studies, interviews and online promotion

The N8 CIR will also look to address wider diversity concerns and will seek to support individuals from minority communities, and those with disabilities, to work and contribute to the HPC community.

N8 CIR already has a strong reputation in the wider HPC community with Marion Weinzierl (Durham University) and Emma Barnes (University of York) both included in a recent list of trailblazing women in HPC: https://sc21.supercomputing.org/2021/03/31/meet-six-trailblazing-women-in-hpc/.

It is hoped that the presence of these high-profile HPC specialists within N8 CIR will help and encourage members to join and contribute to the new chapter.

Dr Marion Weinzierl, research software engineer at Durham University and N8 CIR RSE theme leader said: “I’m thrilled that the N8 CIR has become recognised as a chapter of WHPC. Our group is open to everyone and welcomes contributions and support from all genders and gender identities. Strong allyship will be key to the success of the group.

“We’ve already had our first meeting since our application was accepted and have identified actions that will help to kick-start inclusive practices across many aspects of N8 CIR’s work.”

Dr Sharon Broude Geva, WHPC’s Director of Chapters said: “Approving the application of another WHPC chapter is always exciting. N8 CIR has already shown it is well suited to collaboration by working across research domains at eight different universities.

“Broadening the WHPC network will help to provide inspirational leadership and retain talent across academia.”

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