35 Generation: R-Ladies Taipei Co-founder Ning Chen
Programming Language Group Founded in Hope and Courage
Life and investment can go both ways – getting what you want or losing out. But without trying, you’ll never even find out whether your venture is headed for success or failure.
Programming Language Group Founded in Hope and CourageBy Lucy Chao
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 632 )
“Let us navigate this big ocean together as partners!”
Three years ago, Ning Chen used this famous passionate manga phrase to kick her collaborators into action. Subsequently, they launched R-Ladies Taipei, a predominantly female study community on the R data analytics software and programming language.
Given her background and career, Chen, who was born in 1983, seems to meet all the requirements it takes to become a winner in life. After being accepted at the Department of International Business of National Chengchi University, Chen was awarded a scholarship to study in the United States as an exchange student. After graduation, she joined IBM's sales department. A few years into the job, however, she was at a loss, asking herself “What do I want to do after all?”
So she decided to change careers, joining Yahoo! as a media data analyst. After working in the field for three years, Chen reached her limit with regard to learning programming languages. “I don’t know where this inspiration came from; I felt I could use the online community approach to build my own capacity through different projects,” notes Chen in recalling her beginnings.
The First to Push the Go Button
At the annual meeting of the Taiwan Data Science Foundation in 2014, Chen got to know Yen Chia-yi and Tang Ju-yin. She convinced them to launch an online programming language study community.
“Actually, when this meeting took place, we had already been heading that way; we only lacked a person to push the Go button,” remarks R-Ladies Taipei co-founder Yen as she looks back at the decisive moment in the community's launch.
Taiwan’s high-tech community had always been characterized by a severe gender imbalance.
Many friends had therefore urged Yen to found a female community. Yen, however, didn’t have the confidence to take action because she thought the time was not yet ripe. She thrust her doubts aside when she met Ning. “I felt that Ning had a lot of enthusiasm and action.”
Half a year after founding R-Ladies, Chen decided to quit her job at Yahoo to focus on managing the community and to work fulltime as a freelancer. At the same time, she also had a baby and kept breastfeeding throughout a punishing work schedule. “During that time, I went everywhere carrying around several kilograms, including an electric milk pump and freezer packs,” recalls Chen.
At every stage in her life, be it leaving sales to go into the tech industry or giving up a salaried job for a life as freelancer, Chen went through a period of confusion and hesitation. Yet she usually kept a forward-looking attitude.
“There’s nothing to lose, so go and do it!” is her motto. Thanks to her courage, Chen is looking at the possibility of a bright, promising future.
Translated from the Chinese by Susanne Ganz
Currently a popular free software environment for statistical computing that can be used for machine learning and data mining.