Trans-Tasman collaborations and support of diversity in eResearch

Last October, multiple NeSI team members travelled to Brisbane to participate in the 2019 eResearch Australasia conference programme, themed 'eResearch Diversity'.

Since then, NeSI has participated in Trans-Tasman collaborations and conversations around building a community for women in high performance computing, and just recently NeSI learned of a grassroots effort to support more opportunities for people of colour in eResearch leadership positions. 

Building a ‘Women in HPC’ community in Australasia

Women in High Performance Computing (WHPC) is an international organisation with the vision to provide knowledge, fellowship, and support to women working in the global HPC community, and the organizations that employ them. At eResearch Australasia, a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) session was led by Jana Makar and Megan Guidry from New Zealand eScience Infrastructure and Kerri Wait from Monash University to explore interest in establishing an Australasian Chapter of WHPC. 

NeSI WHPC eResearch Australasia 2019
Jana Makar from NeSI leading the BoF at eResearch Australasia 2019 in Brisbane, Australia.


A detailed recap from that BoF session is available to read here. Building on the positive discussions and enthusiasm from the BoF, a small working group has formed to carry on the momentum around this effort. The members of this Trans-Tasman working group currently include:

  • Jana Makar, Communications Manager, NeSI
  • Megan Guidry, Research Communities Advisor, NeSI
  • Aditi Subramanya, Marketing & Events Officer, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre
  • Kerri Wait, HPC Consultant, Monash University
  • Loretta Davis, Executive Officer, AeRO
  • Sam Moskwa, CEO, AeRO

The group has chosen to use the Australasian eResearch Organisations (AeRO) eResearch Chat platform's Diversity & Inclusion space as its main communications hub for sharing updates related to the WHPC Chapter establishment, as well as highlighting or starting other initiatives that bridge gaps or better connect women in HPC and eResearch within our regions.

Over the next few months, the working group is coordinating the following WHPC-related sessions at two New Zealand eResearch / HPC events:

If you have other events you'd like to see feature a WHPC-related presentation or BoF, please touch base with the working group through the AeRO chat portal, or feel free to reach out to Jana or Megan at NeSI.

Note: WHPC's first annual Summit is happening in Vancouver, Canada from April 29 - May 01, 2020. Invited speaker announcements have begun, and a draft programme is expected within the next few weeks. Sessions will include technical presentations from professionals in the community; career skills-building sessions; strategies for workforce inclusion, and engagement of under-represented groups; and hands-on tutorials. Early bird registration for the event ends on 18 February -- click here to register. If anyone from New Zealand or Australia is planning to attend, the working group would love to hear about it and share your experience and takeaways from the event. 

Mentorship opportunities for people of colour in eResearch

Rowland Mosbergen from The University of Melbourne gave a talk at eResearch Australasia in 2019 called “Capability Maturity Model for Diversity in Organisations”, looking at how the lack of opportunities for people from marginalised groups over time reduces employability, especially at the senior leadership positions.

The feedback he received from that talk was so positive, he's decided to take things further. One of his early-stage ideas is to create support for building a community for people of colour who were keen to move into senior management.

Mosberger, who is also an active member of the Australia/New Zealand Research Software Engineering (RSE) community, says he hopes this followup from his session will help connect more people of colour with potential mentors and senior recruitment executives, and use the framework described in his talk for helping to increase the proportion of people of colour in senior leadership across eResearch.

He is hosting an online meetup/Zoom call on 24 February to discuss his idea and welcomes anyone interested (from either Australia or New Zealand) to attend. Click here for details