Ph.D. candidate Jesmin Jahan Tithi is one of two chosen to present at SC14 Women in HPC workshop.
Jesmin Jahan Tithi, a fourth-year computer science PhD candidate at Stony Brook University, said that receiving the honor to both attend and present at a prominent international supercomputing conference was “a great opportunity. There were around 10,000 attendees from researchers to students, professors, government organizations, labs and industry from all over the world.”
The SuperComputing Conference is an annual event, this year dubbed “SC14” and held from November 16 to 21, 2014 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The theme of this year’s conference was HPC matters (High-Performance Computing), and a major highlight of the conference, said Tithi, was participating in its first-ever “Women in HPC: Mentorship and Leadership” workshop, which featured only two student presentations, one of which was Tithi’s. This particular type of women-centric computer science workshop and others like it, she said, have important implications for the future. “In general, more women need to be brought into the STEM fields [science, technology, engineering and math],” said Tithi. She added that a major goal of the workshop is to help more women, particularly women from developing countries, pursue educational and professional futures in computer science.
-Written by Erica Cirino, IACS
Men currently dominate the computer science field with the number of women having decreased over time since the early 1980s, according to an October 2014 NPR report titled “When Women Stopped Coding.” The report cites one possible reason being that when computers were first made available to the general public, the advertisements were targeted to boys. In addition, an AAUW analysis of 2011 US Census Bureau data shows gender gaps in pay, with women in all STEM fields being paid significantly less than men. These elements combined can work to discourage women from pursuing a future in STEM.
But Tithi says that she is hopeful that workshops like the one she attended at SC14 can help give women the information, support and confidence they need to ultimately be successful in whichever STEM areas they choose. “By meeting together,” said Tithi, “women are able to discuss their research, ideas and also any problems they are facing in their field today, and this is very helpful.”
Tithi’s enthusiasm for bringing women into the STEM fields did not go unnoticed by SC14 organizers. In fact, Tithi said that she was personally invited to write a proposal for the women-centric HPC workshop at next year’s conference. Though the four-hour workshop for women at SC14 was excellent, said Tithi, there is room for improvement at next year’s event. “I think the next workshop should be bigger and more of an all-day affair,” said Tithi. “That way, more women could attend, and there would be enough time to present more research and hold more professional training and networking sessions.”
Another high point of the conference for Tithi was presenting her own research during the women-centric workshop, on a paper she recently co-authored on how to boost the energy efficiency of computer processors titled, “Exploiting Spatial Architectures for Edit Distance Algorithms.” Tithi said that she was excited to receive “great” feedback on her presentation from the crowd of academics, professionals and industry leaders who attended the conference. Though attending seminars, talks and workshops at the conference all day during her stay in Louisiana was a little exhausting, Tithi said that on the last day of her trip she finally found a little downtime. “Though I only got to explore the city of New Orleans for a few hours, I am glad I did.” Overall, she said, attending SC14 was a rewarding experience, and she is looking forward to next year’s conference. Tithi would like to thank the IACS for funding her trip to SC14. She would also like to thank her advisor, Dr. Rezaul A. Chowdhury, assistant professor of computer science at Stony Brook University, who encouraged her to apply for a spot at the conference.
To access the abstract for Tithi’s talk, visit http://www.womeninhpc.org.uk/sc14/sc14-workshop-speakers-and-contributors#Tithi.