Meet the women lead engineers behind the supercomputer


Equally remarkable are the two women who helped create the project: Hillery Hunter, a director of accelerated cognitive infrastructure, helped build out its memory and computing speed, while Stefanie Chiras, the VP of cognitive systems, is in charge of getting Summit’s power into the hands of clients.

The two women lead their respective teams at IBM, despite staggering and persistent gender inequality in tech.

Women hold fewer than 1 in 5 tech jobs, according to a report by recruiting automation platform Entelo from earlier this year. The more senior the position, the less likely a woman holds the title, the report says. Women hold just 16 percent of senior-level tech jobs and only 10 percent of executive roles.

But Hunter and Chiras have come up together. They’ve each worked on several teams during their tenures at IBM — stints they call “mini careers.” They’ve served the same team, separated as they moved on to different opportunities and reunited on cross-unit projects.

In more ways than one, the two women complement each other. They bring to the table distinct knowledge sets and shine at different phases of the government-backed Summit project.

When Hunter and Chiras work together, Chiras says, the sum exceeds the parts: “One plus one is three.”

Hunter’s current role has her working out of Yorktown, New York, 1,700 miles away from Chiras in Austin, Texas. They text or email almost daily, though, Chiras said.

“And sometimes when we’re together we complete each other’s sentences,” Chiras said. “It’s a great partnership.”


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