BoF: Women in HPC at ISC 2015


Recent research, highlighted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, has indicated the existence of a “diversity dividend”, suggesting that a more diverse workforce boosts the bottom line for businesses, with mixed workforces raising revenues by around 40% as compared to all-male or all-female workforces.

Women are greatly outnumbered by men in the HPC community. Improving diversity in the workforce is generally recognised as essential to meet the needs of a growing industry, improve European competitiveness and improve productivity. However, the sector struggles to attract female candidates when jobs are advertised.

This BoF explores ways of promoting diversity in HPC and hears from women working in the HPC industry, exploring issues such as unconscious bias, workforce policies, educational choices and opportunities with a view to helping them to attract and retain talented women.


Lilit Axner, Project Manager & Researcher, High Performance Computing Center (PDC), KTH Royal Institute of Technology


Dr. Lilit Axner is a project manager and researcher at PDC- the High Performance Computing Center at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. Within this position she was also the project manager of the ScalaLife (Scalable Software Services for Life Sciences) EU FP7 project and carried activities within the DEISA (Distributed European Infrastructure for Computing) project. Lilit Axner has been coordinating Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) centers within PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) since 2010. Currently she is also developing the PDC Business unit that explores the use of HPC for SMEs and industry in general. Prior to this position she was a HPC adviser at SARA (currently SurfSARA) the National Supercomputing and e-Science Support Center in the Netherlands. Lilit Axner holds a PhD in Computer science as well as MSc in Mathematics. Lilit has a MBA degree as well.

Pascale Rossé-Laurent, Senior Architect, HPC Competence Centre


Pascale Rossé-Laurent is a Senior Architect in the HPC Competence Centre and is in charge of advanced technology and software analysis. She participated in EESI Initiative and ETP4HPC Strategic Research Agenda as a system and infrastructure expert. Until 2010, Pascale was in charge of Software architecture of Bull HPC offer for Exascale, and of the Petaflop CEA-BULL research program during 2008-2010. She was also technical leader for Bull in the joint BULL-IBM software program on RS6000 SP2 platform. She obtained her PhD in Geology and a Master in Artificial Intelligence (CERICS) before joining BULL.

Marie-Christine Sawley, Director, Intel ECR Laboratory


Marie-Christine Sawley holds a degree in Physics and a PhD in Plasma Physics from EPFL (1985). After a postdoc at the University of Sydney, she joined the EPFL in 1988 to lead the support group for HPC applications. She led a number of HPC initiatives for introducing new technology at the EPFL such as the PATP with the Cray T3D, the SwissTX prototype and the establishing the Vital IT partnership between HP, EPFL and the SIB. She joined the ETH Zurich in 2003 to become the general manager of the Swiss national Supercomputing centre, expanding the centre in the following 4 ½ years from a headcount of 19 up to 40. From 2008 until 2010 she worked as senior scientist at the Institute for particle physics of ETH on the massive computing requirements on the LCG grid for the CMS detector. She joined Intel at the end of 2010 to become the Intel manager of the ECR lab in Paris. The ECR lab activities concentrate on software for exascale, tools, run time models and applications, on XEON and MIC.

Target Audience

Women working in HPC, industry leaders, HPC recruiters, parties interested in gender equality in the field of HPC.

How to Attend

We would like to encourage everyone who has an interest in the equal representation of women to attend, irrespective of their gender.

Registration is via the ISC-HPC website. For the BoF you will need either a full Conference Pass and/or an Exhibition pass.

Early Bird Registration closes Wednesday 10 June.

Register now at Please note WHPC is not responsible for registration, this is entirely managed by the organisers of ISC 2015.


Toni Collis, Applications Consultant in HPC Research and Women in HPC Coordinator, EPCC, The University of Edinburgh

Toni Collis is the coordinator and founding member of the Women in HPC (WHPC) network in the UK, as well as an Applications Consultant in HPC Research and Industry at Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), UK. Within EPCC her role includes providing technical expertise on a range of research projects using HPC in academic software, from engineering to biology. Prior to working EPCC Toni gained a PhD in computational condensed matter as well as an MSc in HPC and an MPhys in Mathematical Physics. Antonia’s current role for WHPC involves running the WHPC network and events, as well as research into diversity in the HPC community, how it can be improved and the unique problems faced by this field. She has been on the organising committee for a variety of workshops and conferences including the first WHPC workshop at SC14.

Alison Kennedy, Executive Director of Operations, EPCC, The University of Edinburgh

Alison Kennedy is Executive Director of EPCC, the High Performance Computing centre based at the University of Edinburgh. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) which is the European HPC Infrastructure and is a member of the Executive Council of the European Data Infrastructure EUDAT. She began her working life as a real time systems programmer in industry and has now worked in HPC at EPCC for over 20 years, managing large collaborative projects in HPC and Data. Alison is also a founding member and board member of the Women in HPC (WHPC) network.

General Events Categories
Event Type 2 Categories