STEM History:

Janet Rita Emerson Bashen (née Emerson) 


Entrepreneur, Business Consultant, and Software Inventor

Birth/Death Dates

Born: February 12, 1957


Janet Rita Emerson Bashen is the founder, president, and CEO of Bashen Corporation, a consulting firm that pioneered end-to-end Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) compliance administration services. Bashen established the company from her home office in 1994. As the business began servicing more clients, increased demand led Bashen to design case management software that simplified claims tracking and document management by replacing the cumbersome paper process used by most businesses. Bashen received a patent for the software (called LinkLine and now known as Nalikah) in 2006, making her the first African American woman to earn a patent for a software invention.

Educational Background

  • University of Houston (BS)
  • Tulane Law School (MJ-LEL)

Struggles this Inventor Overcame

Bashen attended an elementary school that had only recently been integrated, and she faced discrimination throughout her childhood and youth. According to Bashen, “As a black girl growing up in the segregated South, I asked my parents many questions; they didn’t have answers. This started a lifelong quest of trying to understand our country’s history and struggle with issues of race. This research led me to gender issues and then my passion with EEO grew into a business interest that has evolved, incorporating diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

Problems this Inventor Solved

There was a need to simplify claims tracking and document management processes to create a better way to store and access the data related to discrimination claims filed by employees because the processes most businesses used at the time were too cumbersome.

How this inventor changed the world (or at least their corner of it)

In January 2006, Bashen became the first African American woman to patent web-based EEO software (Nalikah, formerly known as LinkLine). In October 2002, Bashen Corporation was named one of America’s entrepreneurial growth leaders by Inc. Magazine in its annual ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, with an increase in sales of 552%. In October 2003, Bashen was given the Pinnacle Award by the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Crystal Award, presented by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., for achievement in business. In 2010, Bashen was recognized at the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakar, Senegal.

Lasting changes from this inventor’s work or how they trailblazed

In May 2000, Bashen testified before Congress regarding the effect of the FTC opinion letter on third-party discrimination investigations. She and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) were key figures in a debate that resulted in a change in legislation.