Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre is striving towards a more diverse, inclusive (D&I) and equitable workplace. To achieve this goal Pawsey are trialling new approaches, including mentoring, participation in D&I Communities of Practice (CoPs), use of inclusive language and using its standing to promote these values to the wider high-performance computing (HPC) community .
“…Inclusion@Work … matter[s] to Australian workers, benefits everyone and boosts employee performance and wellbeing.”[i] D&I is reflected in Pawsey’s strategic pillars[ii] and is embedded in our workplace practices.
Pawsey & Communities of Practice
Pawsey’s new D&I committee focusses staff efforts towards making HPC more inclusive and make access to HPC systems by the science community more equitable by removing historic and artificial biases. The committee provides an overarching view of the many D&I facets in which Pawsey is involved. This article provides a sampling of such involvement: running Carpentries workshops, training staff in inclusive teaching practices, participating in Women/Girls in STEM events, and striving for D&I throughout Pawsey.
D&I principles lower barriers to international collaboration, builds research community engagement and, crucially, engage more people from diverse backgrounds by making HPC access equitable to the entire scientific community.
Pawsey Executive Director Mark Stickells is promoting Pawsey’s D&I practices: “I am convinced that a more equitable workplace will not only provide better business outcomes, it will improve Pawsey’s ability to recruit and retain new talent, help Pawsey to embrace innovation, improve our client engagement and service delivery, and most importantly, our employee satisfaction and wellbeing will rise.”
Pawsey is actively engaged in CSIRO’s D&I Community of Practice (CoP). This CoP keeps our D&I conversation going throughout the year. Some of Pawsey’s work is featured in CSIRO’s response to the Women in STEM: Decadal Science Plan.
Pawsey & The Carpentries
To make Pawsey more diverse and inclusive, we support the Carpentries practices. The Carpentries is a global network of individuals who teach foundational coding and data science skills to students, researchers and scientists worldwide through seminars that use inclusive and supportive language. These individuals are largely volunteers who undergo certification to become Carpentries instructors. This includes an intensive two-day training seminar on how to teach, with a strong focus on inclusivity.
Pawsey embraces the Carpentries’ approach to inclusive teaching. Staff from Pawsey who plan to teach Pawsey researchers are strongly encouraged to complete this two-day session and apply the inclusive teaching techniques into their own practices.
What does inclusive teaching look like? One example shows even simple changes are powerful. Carpentries workshops teach instructors to remove words like “simple,” “easy” or “just” from their teaching vocabulary. “That’s easy to schedule an HPC job, you just use the scheduler,” might be obvious to some, but many students and researchers may not have a HPC background and to them it is neither easy nor intuitive. Carpentries instructors remove words that are subjective, which can exclude learners. It makes new HPC concepts less intimidating.
Pawsey takes seriously its commitment to inclusive teaching practices. Pawsey has an on-staff Carpentries trainer who leads instructor certification for Pawsey staff. True to the Carpentries’ community spirit, Pawsey also supports certification of Australian and global Carpentries instructors. This not only pays it forward by raising awareness of inclusive training, but also keeps Pawsey at the forefront of emerging trends, techniques and practices in D&I.
Pawsey, Training & Mentors
Pawsey actively seeks to explore D&I through professional development and training opportunities, inviting staff and key partners to D&I workshops. Pawsey also encourages staff to create their own learning journeys and share back to the group in such forums as Lunch‘N’Learn sessions.
Pawsey’s summer interns are actively involved in topics of diversity and inclusion. In the first four weeks of the 10-week, 2021/2022 Program, intern mentors have developed a D&I training program from scratch. These mentors – Edric Matwiejew, Melissa Speer, and Jordan Makins – ran the pilot of their 90-minute interactive workshop titled “Science: Unintended Consequences”.This seminar provided a fresh look at D&I by placing it in the context of machine learning and artificial intelligence. The training explores work and life, dealing with subconscious bias and exclusionary practices. This is followed bydiscussions on social exclusion in small groups. The group members explore their commonalities and differences and evaluate how this affects their lives and careers. To emphasise how models can be influenced by even small differences when the underlying sample data lacks diversity, the mentors perform a real-time anomaly detection sample on the participants’ base data. A wider offering is planned for 2022.
[i] Diversity Council Australia (O’Leary, J. and D’Almada-Remedios, R.) DCA-Suncorp Inclusion@Work Index 2019–2020: Mapping the State of Inclusion in the Australian Workforce, Sydney, Diversity Council Australia, 2019.
[ii] Pawsey Strategic Pillar: People: attract, diversify, develop, and retain the best talent.