First Black Woman Ever to Hold a Software Patent

Janet Emerson Bashen

Not very many Black women are software developers, but this by no means stopped Janet Emerson Bashen from becoming the first African American woman to hold a software patent.

It started out as just an idea

Bashen was looking for a way to streamline EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) investigations by using web-based software. Her job was investigating EEO complaints. She had a great idea for creating the software herself, but she couldn't get her company interested. So, with the help of her cousin who was majoring in computer science major and a $5,000 loan from her mother, she went to work on the idea.

Her company

She then started her own company called Bashen Corporation, and developed an internet software application called LinkLine that helps manage EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) compliance investigations. Her software literally transformed the entire industry, and now her company is the preferred brand for human resources consulting with its EEO compliance consulting services.

Her company has developed successful programs for hundreds of organizations, including numerous Fortune 500 companies, city, state, and federal government agencies, and educational institutions.

The patent

Bashen started working on the idea in 2001, and applied for a patent in late 2001. But it wasn't until five years later in 2006 that the patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,985,922 B1) was granted, following a very rigorous review by the U.S. patent office.

Thanks to her parents

Bashen attributes her success to the way her parents raised her. She said, “Every day they said, ‘You have to set an example.’” And Bashen has certainly done just that!

Her accomplishments have earned her numerous awards, including an MIT award in Senegal, Africa for her innovative thinking. She has been inducted into the Black Inventors Hall of Fame, has been named as one of Ebony Magazine's 100 Most Influential Leaders, and has appeared on CNN and other notable news outlets.

For more details about her or her company, visit
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