Concrete steps for supporting a diverse HPC and eResearch workforce

How can research facilities and their leaders increase diversity within their workforce? A range of opportunities exist across all levels of an organisation, from governance and leadership positions to workplace environments to event-related actions.

Members of the Australasian Chapter of Women in High Performance Computing (WHPCAusNZ) have produced a helpful guide of concrete steps to create and support inclusion of women and other unheard groups within the HPC and eResearch sectors. Senior leaders are encouraged to have a look and consider what you could put into practice or raise for discussion at your organisation. If you have questions or would like advice on implementing these ideas, reach out to WHPCAusNZ.

The full document can be viewed and shared as a PDF here.


Event-related actions

  • Senior members of eResearch and HPC facilities should take the Panel Pledge.

    • This avoids #manels (all male panels)

    • Create a list of 10 people in your field who you could suggest to speak in your place – a quick reference sheet.

  • Event programme committees should be more diverse (including not just women, but also ECRs, people from outside the global North, gender-diverse people, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and others)

    • Events should have diverse speakers and session chairs

    • Events should be welcoming to diverse attendees

    • WHPC AusNZ could be on committees of relevant conferences (or act as a consultant) BEFORE programmes are published/as they are built

      • Could refer people who are interested in being on these committees

    • Be respectful and open when asking for participation, as individuals may be tapped quite often

    • You can be honest about ‘box-ticking’ but also describe what the researcher/speaker brings to the conversation/panel/discussion

  • Make diversity (of presenters and attendees) a KPI for events and include diversity as part of the evaluation of the event (e.g. as part of the participant survey)

  • Senior members of eResearch and HPC facilities should attend sessions on Diversity and Inclusion at conferences;

    • Junior staff and women more likely to attend D&I sessions

    • Senior staff could bring along a shadow junior staffer to give them networking opportunities and see sessions from the Exec perspective

    • Seeing senior staff at these events makes them easier to approach about diversity and inclusion!


Workplace-related actions

  • Senior members of eResearch and HPC facilities should be open to opportunities, making change and taking on suggestions for improvemen

  • Organisations should make targets for gender parity in their governance/boards.

  • Unconscious bias training for senior members of eResearch and HPC facilities (offered by most universities)

  • Ally training for senior members of eResearch and HPC facilities (offered by most universities)

  • Indigenous Cultural Awareness training for senior members of eResearch and HPC facilities (offered by most universities)

  • eResearch and HPC facilities can adopt a diversity and inclusion policy

  • Accessible and inclusive job interviews

    • Avoid school pick-up and drop-off times

    • Provide simple parking options

    • Give time before interviews for interviewees to consider the questions (catering to different learning/processing styles)

  • Writing job descriptions with inclusive language


Considerations for management teams

Is there a Diversity and Inclusion committee at your organisation that can support staff?

  • Structure helps staff to take ideas up the chain

  • Provides champions at the Executive level

  • Allows for great opportunities once it is active

  • There is evidence for the benefits of diverse and inclusive environments (see Resources)

  • Keep in mind that a D&I committee will benefit from getting leaders to ‘co-author’ or be involved in strategy writing. It improves accountability and creates ownership.

  • Encourage specific areas/departments in the organisation to take ownership of actions (e.g. your Property management people might sign up to provide gender-neutral bathroom facilities or your media team might sign up to broaden the ‘promo faces’ used to advertise your organisation.

What is already in place to support Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace?

  • Existing policies?

  • Strategic goals?

    • This allows for managers to support change through impact on organisational level

    • Demonstrate with actual numbers - ‘what gets measured can be changed’

Who will call out event organising committees for not having diverse speakers or inclusion policies?

  • The research community should be vocal. This helps organising committees and decision makers.

  • Diversity is not just women. There are other unheard groups –  ECRs/People of Colour /age/diverse genders.

  • There are constructive ways to call out:

    • Benefit of the doubt - don’t assume malice

    • Use resources you can point them to – what if someone just doesn’t know?

    • Challenge the person’s lens (not the individual)

How do we address non-inclusive behaviours in younger/ECR/new researchers/staff?

  • Share responsibility for positive and respectful spaces across everyone in the organisation

    • Anyone can, and should feel able to, call out behaviour that doesn’t feel inclusive

    • Encourage inclusive language/conduct awareness

    • Supportive feedback processes built in to training

  • Clear and enforced rules about appropriate behaviour and language


Other resources


WHPCAusNZ logo - the letters WHPC with the logos of the founding organisations featured below - NeSI, Pawsey, NCI, AeRO, Monash


Join the community

The WHPC Australasia Chapter is a collaboration between NeSI, Monash UniversityAustralasian eResearch Organisations (AeRO)NCI Australia, and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. There's lots of ways to connect with the community:

For more information about WHPC and to meet the Organising Committee, visit the WHPCAusNZ website.