Janese Swanson

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Janese Swanson
Born 1958 (age 57–58)
Nationality American
Alma mater San Diego State University
Occupation Inventor
Software developer

Janese Swanson (born 1958)[1] is an American inventor and software developer. Swanson co-developed the first of the Carmen Sandiego educational games, and founded the company Girl Tech,[2][3] which creates products aimed at making technology more interesting for girls. She has developed award-winning curricula, electronic toys, and books that encourage girls to explore technology and inventions. Her toy inventions include the Snoop Stopper Keepsake Box, Me-Mail Message Center, Zap N’ Lock Journal, and Swap-It Locket. Her publications include Tech Girl's Internet Adventures, Tech Girl's Activity Book, and Girlzine: A Magazine for the Global Girl.


Swanson was raised by her mother in San Diego, California, after her father was killed in the Vietnam War.[4] She graduated from Orange Glen High School in 1975, and earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies in 1981 from San Diego State University, and went on to work as a teacher, a flight attendant and a model.[1] She convinced a computer company to donate laptops, and taught her mainly female fellow flight attendants how to use them during their spare time.[citation needed]

She also continued her studies, eventually earning a total of seven academic degrees[3] including a doctorate in organization and leadership, with a doctoral thesis on gender issues in product design, play patterns and gender preferences.[2] Swanson received her Ed.D. in Organization and Leadership Technology in 1997 from the University of San Francisco.[4]

In the late 1980s, Swanson was hired by Brøderbund Software as a product manager, where she helped develop The Treehouse, The Playroom, and the Macintosh edition of the game Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?.[5] She invented gadgets for her daughter, including a voice recording device that she hoped to install in Jackie's day care cubby and in her own office. I missed her so much that I used to call my home answering machine to hear her voice, and I thought this would let me talk to her during the day.[1] In 1992 she left Brøderbund to develop a follow-on device that electronically altered a voice's pitch and modulation, which she licensed to Yes! Entertainment (which marketed it as the Yak Bak), and to Tiger Electronics for its Talkboy FX.[1]

In 1995 Swanson decided that she wanted to create toys aimed specifically at girls, and founded Girl Tech as an independent company with headquarters near her home in San Rafael, California.[citation needed] Products included the "Friend Frame" talking picture frame, the "Keepsafe" storage box with a remote-controlled lock, and a remote listening device called "Bug 'Em".[citation needed] Swanson claimed that her vision for the company did not match the expectations of existing toy distributors: "For two years after I founded the company, toy store buyers would say, 'Can you make it pink?' 'Can't you make it for boys?' And I would say, 'No, this is what girls like to play with.'"[1] She later sold the company to Radica Games, now a division of Mattel, for $6 million.[1] She has also licensed her technologies to Hasbro and Sega.[6]

Swanson worked as Education Coordinator at the United States Mint, and was a founder at The Art Apprentice.[7] She is now an art teacher in the Del Mar Union School District, and uses computer technology to encourage students' creation of art work.[6] Her students' work has received an "Innovative Video In Education" (iVIE) award in 2008 from the San Diego County Office of Education,[8] and she was the education chair of SIGGRAPH in 2007.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Inventor Fills Girls' Desire for Their Own Gadgets". New York Times. 1999-09-30. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  2. ^ a b "Inventor of the Week: Janese Swanson". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2013-08-29. 
  3. ^ a b "Beyond Pink and Fluffy: Janese Swanson". Smithsonian Institution. 2005-03-03. 
  4. ^ a b "Guide to the Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Interview". National Museum of American History. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  5. ^ "Inventor Fills Girls' Desire for Their Own Gadgets - NYTimes.com". The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Janese Swanson - Art & Design Educator". Lean In. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  7. ^ "Welcome". The Art Apprentice. 
  8. ^ "Special Achievement Awards: "The Incredible Shrinking Students"". iVIE Awards. 2008. 
  9. ^ "Educators Program Fact Sheet". SIGGRAPH. 2007. 

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