Audrey Tang (唐鳳), at 35 already a retired entrepreneur and self-taught computer programmer who is considered one of Taiwan’s brightest, is set to add another line of code to her resume: In October, she is to join the Cabinet as a minister without portfolio.
Tang, who will be the Executive Yuan’s first transgender official, founded her own company at the age of 16 despite dropping out of junior-high school.
Tang — who reportedly has an IQ of 180 — is a prominent member of groups using the Haskell and Perl programming languages and has contributed to the designs of systems such as Kwiki, Windows RT and Slash.
Her parents said that she was reading classic literature in a variety of languages and solving simultaneous equations by the time she was in first grade.
Unable to find her way in mainstream education, Tang is mainly self-taught and, having a knack for computers, she was able to harness the exponential growth of new technologies to advance her education.
Although some commentators have attributed Tang’s successful effort to educate herself to her high IQ, improving Internet speeds and search engine software from 2000 onward played a great part in her achievements, said Tang’s father, Tang Kuang-hua (唐光華).
The Internet has bridged the gap between the levels of education offered in urban and rural areas, Tang Kuang-hua said, adding proudly that Audrey did not travel abroad for her education, so she is 100 percent “made in Taiwan.”
Audrey’s experience should inspire children from less well-off families, he said.
However, Tang Kuang-hua said he and his wife, Lee Ya-ching (李雅卿), recognized the importance of an effective learning environment, critical thinking and the ability to state one’s opinions and so they trained her in such areas by holding topical family discussions when she was young.
This, as well as her own contributions to online forums, have enabled Audrey Tang to develop her eloquence and persuasiveness, Tang Kuang-hua said.
When Audrey Tang was eight, her family were camping in a forest when she saw a boy tormenting insects, and she began to cry, her father said.
It was this incident that made the family realize that Audrey was kind and “very sensitive to pain in life,” he said, adding that many of her most recent activities were influenced by this characteristic.
Having founded her own business at 16, Audrey Tang announced her “retirement” at the age of 33 and devoted her time to Internet public welfare projects, such as the g0v.tw platform, and the promotion of the vTaiwan platform.
That the government is asking Audrey Tang to take a position in the Cabinet means that it has noticed the “differences” between the older and the younger generation, her father said.
Using the development of computer software as an example, Tang Kuang-hua said the world has departed from the era when Microsoft dominated the market, and now more “freeware” is available, which demonstrates that the younger generation values the “shared economy.”
The sentiment was echoed by former National Development Council (NDC) minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), who said that the appointment of Audrey Tang to the Cabinet is proof that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has astutely grasped the difference between generation Y and earlier generations and wishes to embrace the changes.
The government’s decision to invite Audrey Tang to join the government is a game-changing decision in light of the rapid changes in the IT industry, Kuan said.
However, he added that he hoped the government is not asking his daughter to take the position for the wrong reasons.
Her appointment is a landmark in gender equality, as she underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2005.
Audrey Tang has said she always identified as female and when she was 25, she changed her name from Autrijus Tang (唐宗漢) to Audrey Tang.
Tang Kuang-hua said he and his wife were initially surprised when they heard of Audrey’s decision to undergo surgery, but have backed her unconditionally.
In light of the increasing debate over gender issues in Taiwan, citing her own experiences, Audrey Tang has suggested that parents be more open to the gender identification of their children, adding that they should listen more, as it would help parents and children to understand each other better.
Additional reporting by Lee Hsin-fang
The chief mechanic in an air force unit from which an F-16 and its pilot went missing last week died on Sunday evening in what might have been a suicide, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday. The ministry in a statement confirmed media reports that the mechanic, surnamed Huang (黃), “hurt himself” at a military barracks. Huang was taken to Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital after he was found unresponsive in the barracks, but doctors could not revive him, the ministry said. Huang served in the 26th Tactical Fighter Group of the 5th Tactical Fighter Wing, the same unit as the missing
‘VIRUS DIPLOMACY’: The nation’s expertise in handling COVID-19 was among the reasons that it should not be excluded from the WHO, the European Parliament said The European Parliament this week passed resolutions that support Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHO and its intention to negotiate a trade pact with Taiwan. During its plenary session from Monday to Thursday, the parliament approved resolutions on the foreign policy consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and the EU’s trade policy, parts of which were viewed as friendly toward Taiwan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a statement yesterday, the ministry welcomed the passage of the resolutions and thanked the parliament for its support for Taiwan. In the first resolution, the parliament cited Beijing’s increasing threats to Taiwan, the crackdown on
NON-TYPICAL: Apart from Atsani, storms in autumn missed Taiwan, rainfall has been lower and average temperatures have been higher, a CWB forecaster said The current water shortage is expected to worsen in the next few months, with the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) yesterday forecasting a colder, dryer winter than normal. With winter starting next week, the bureau at a media briefing outlined the expected conditions through February and reviewed autumn’s significant weather events. Weather Forecast Center director Lu Kuo-cheng (呂國臣) said that autumn this year had three major characteristics: First, 13 tropical storms and typhoons formed from September to this month, up from 11 in the same period last year, Lu said. Apart from Atsani, for which sea and land alerts were issued in Taiwan, the tropical
The gig began with a nun chanting on stage, but suddenly erupted into a wall of noise unleashed by distorted guitars and screamed sutras — the unique sound of Taiwan’s first Buddhist death metal band. The nation has a vibrant metal scene, but few outfits are quite as eye-catching as Dharma (達摩樂隊), a band that aims to deliver enlightenment via the medium of throaty eight-string guitars and guttural roars. Dressed in robes — black, of course — they use traditional Sanskrit sutras as lyrics, but everything else screams death metal, from bloody face paint on stage to growled vocals, relentless riffs and