Janese Swanson

Janese Swanson (1958 - ) is an inventor and software developer of toys and games for girls. She grew up in San Diego, the second oldest of six children, raised by her mother after her father died in the Vietnam War. She took care of her younger siblings, and learned to repair broken toys and appliances. Although she had interests in typically “male” jobs (paper boy, astronaut) her grandfather convinced her to become a model, where she discovered a talent for magazine design and layout, as well as the superficial and destructive values of that world. She graduated from San Diego State University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, focused in education. She worked as a teacher until she was one of many teachers let go after budget cuts. While working as a flight attendant, she convinced a local computer store to donate laptops so that she could teach her female coworkers how to use them. She worked as a substitute teacher in the cities she frequently flew to during her years as an attendant. Throughout her life she earned a total of seven academic degrees, including a Ph.D. in organization and leadership (her thesis was on gender issues in product design, play patterns, and gender preferences). In the late 1980s she worked for Brøderbund to help develop computer games including The Treehouse, The Playhouse, and the original Carmen Sandiego. In 1992 she left Brøderbund to start her own company, Kid One For Fun, where she developed the Yak Bak (Yes! Entertainment) and Talkboy (Tiger Electronics). In 1995 she founded Girl Tech, which creates toys and products for girls with technology-heavy components, such as the Friend Frame, the Snoop Stopper Keepsake Box, Me-Mail Message Center, Zap N’ Lock Journal, and Swap-It Locket; Girl Tech also publishes books on technology for girls, and works with community groups, such as developing a technology curriculum for Girl Scout councils. She has since sold the company to Radica Games (Mattel) for 6million, in addition to licensing other technologies to Hasbro and Sega. She is currently an art teacher in Del Mar San Diego.