WHPC workshop @ ISC’22 – Attendee Survey Results!

The goal of WHPC workshops is not only to bring together women in HPC, give them the opportunity to present their work and showcase role models, but also to engage with other members of the community to create a welcoming space that works for everyone. We always try to gather feedback after our events to understand what our community looks for in the sessions we organise. In this last entry in the series of blog posts about the WHPC workshop at ISC’22, we share the results of the survey we circulated at the end of the event. We put it together to confirm if the workshop met the expectations of the attendees, gather any recommendations for future events and learn a bit more about the attendees.

Additionally, at least half of the members of the organising committee change from workshop to workshop (both to ensure the flow of fresh ideas and to share leadership opportunities) so keeping the feedback and recommendations public is beneficial to the continuity of our events. Additionally, we hope other people will find this information useful when organising their own events. So, here are the results based on 16 respondents (out of about 30 attendees).

ISC22 Survey Figure 1

Figure 1. The responses to the first 6 questions in the survey asking about the overall satisfaction with the workshop.

Figure 1 illustrates the responses to the first 6 questions in our survey, focusing on the overall satisfaction with the workshop. Most attendees either agreed or strongly agreed with each of the statements. They thought the workshop was well-organised, all presentations were interesting, they would like to attend more events and are happy to  recommend them to others. Most also thought that their goals for attending were achieved and rated their experience of the event as successful. The attendee disagreeing with those two statements, noted they didn’t feel welcomed. It was sad to see that comment, but they also stated later in the survey that the workshop was good and that they really appreciated being able to attend. This perhaps should be a food for thought –  how can we make our events, not only interesting and engaging, but also more welcoming.

The other answers to question 7, asking for any additional comments for the previous statements included the following:

  • I am leaving this session incredibly inspired. Thank you. I look forward to being involved in the future.
  • Never enough networking time
  • My only comment is that I am very grateful to the speakers for sharing their experiences. Also thanks to the organisers for having invited them and selected the presented topics.
ISC22 Survey Figure 2

Figure 2 – Responses to the 8-13 questions in the survey, focusing on usefulness of each of the sessions during the workshop.

From the next set of questions we wanted to learn how useful to the attendees the individual sessions were.

Figure 2 shows that all sessions were perceived as either moderately or very useful. The only session that had lower scores was the short session featuring the lightning poster talks. This is not a surprising outcome, as this session is more for the poster presenters than the workshop attendees. The lightning talks are squeezed in between other sessions to give the additional opportunity for the WHPC poster presenters to showcase their work and practice giving lightning talks, and is part of the short mentoring program run as a part of the WHPC ISC workshop. The workshop attendees that did not attend the WHPC and ISC poster sessions earlier in the week, could find this part of the sessions harder to follow. Indeed, this was reflected in one of the answers to question 14, where we asked for any suggestions to improve the sessions that were perceived as only somewhat useful or not useful at all. The respondent noted that ‘The posters were not connected to each other so it was a little hard to follow them given the attention they deserve’. This is definitely another thing to ponder – how can we make the poster lightning talks more meaningful to the workshop attendees?

The other comments didn’t really answer question 14, but were very heartwarming to see: ‘The information presented here is transformational outside of HPC too’ and ‘All sessions were great’. There was also a suggestion for a session that would cover‘[…] how to build community – common initiatives to all diverse communities and [how to] work together’.

In the next question we asked what the attendees though were strengths of this event and this is what they wrote:

  • Listening to real experiences.
  • The most useful talks for me were the ones sharing their experiences, problems and solutions they found.
  • The panel discussions were very interesting.
  • Speakers and networking.
  • Insights in career paths and speaker’s learnings.
  • Topics discussed here are not discussed elsewhere.
  • Self-reflection! Thought provoking!
  • Amazing speakers. Thought provoking. Really inspiring.
  • Good support by the organisers.
  • Speakers.
  • I really loved the career development talks and advice and will take it home and reflect on it. Hearing others’ experiences and challenges in HPC, that I connected to.
  • Good tips and good speakers.

This incredible feedback wouldn’t be possible without our amazing speakers, so we would like to thank each and every one of them again for making this event so successful and for sharing so many personal stories! The WHPC events really are about bringing the community together to share our experiences, inspire others, and reflect on ourselves and grow as individuals. With this aim in mind, we also wanted to know what other events besides workshops, BoFs and networking mixers, the community would like the WHPC organisation to host. The suggestions varied from working groups (as heterogenous and interdisciplinary as possible), to meet-ups, early career training sessions and outreach activities to universities. We hope that the local WHPC chapters and other groups will start filling some of this demand.

Finally, we were also keen to hear about any suggestions on how to improve our workshops, so we asked for the recommendations and general comments:

  • Doing group exercises and doing analysis of those. Kind of team building session.
  • Please keep doing it and maybe make it available online.
  • More networking opportunities at events. More local events.
  • Do more. Perhaps a broader audience.
  • More focus on the environment should be pointed out. Is it the sole responsibility of women to combine work and family? Spread the word more among men as well.
  • It is great that this is happening but felt like an afterthought at ISC, but I really appreciate it!!
  • I really liked this session, thank you so much for organising!

In the last part of the survey we asked some demographic questions. Questions 18 and 19 focused on the job and institution type of the attendees. Figure 3 shows the primary job titles – none of the attendees reported working as postdoctoral fellow or being an undergraduate student. Also, 7 people stated they work at a national lab or an HPC centre, 6 people work at an academic institution and 2 in industry. Finally, the last question asked about the gender identity – 11 responders identified as female and 4 as male.

ISC22 Survey Figure 3

Figure 3 – Responses to Question 18, asking for the attendees’ primary job title or academic status.

We are happy to see how successful the ISC WHPC workshop was, and hope to continue to organise the activities for the benefit of the whole community. If you are interested in helping to organise any of the WHPC events – please get in touch!  We also hope the results presented in this post will be useful to other groups in organising similar events. We are always keen to engage with the HPC community so we would love to hear from you! Do you have any stories or experiences to share with us? We hope to see you at another WHPC event soon!