Tag: women

How We Can All #BeBoldForChange

Posted by Sheila Burkett & filed under Events.

I was asked the other day what I planned to do for International Women’s Day this year. The phrase resonating in the campaign is #BeBoldForChange, which moved me to reflect on how I could be bold, make a statement and initiate change.

Many women in the U.S. are taking part in the Day Without Women strike. The thought of me taking the day off as a form of protest causes me stress and would have little impact on those around me. Another option is to take part in the Women’s March on St. Louis happening during lunch in downtown St. Louis.

I believe the best way for me to make a difference though is to use my voice and take action to improve equality for all women.

Promoting Women

I regularly advocate for women by sharing information about their business on social media, making business referrals and submitting these women for awards. My business partner Julia Koelsch and I were recently recognized by St. Louis Small Business Monthly as one of several St. Louis’ Top Business Owners. It was a great honor and we are thankful for the recognition.

Small Business Monthly Cover. We can do better.

Small Business Monthly Cover. We can do better.

When we met the rest of the award winners, one thing was immediately apparent: the group did not reflect the rich multiculturality that makes St. Louis a wonderful place to own a business.

Based on the Missouri Office of Equal Opportunity 2016 report,  there are over 419 certified Women Business Enterprises (WBE) in the St. Louis area and over 130 of those are Minority Business Enterprises (MBE). We should see this diversity in our award ceremonies and panels – yet it is often conspicuously absent.

My commitment for International Women’s Day is to promote all women business owners and nominate them for opportunities for recognition.

My challenge to you is to identify one thing you will do to promote women.

Broaden Networks

Over the years, my personal and professional network has grown. My family teases me when we go out to dinner as I always run into someone I know. Meeting new people, getting to know their story and hearing about their success always energizes me. The reality though is my network is homogeneous (i.e., I have a network that looks like me).

Learning about others’ unique perspectives and challenges – attracting talent that doesn’t look like you, act like you, or have the same experiences as you – helps grow your business and create a work environment that is inclusive.

My commitment is to build intentional relationships with women I meet, especially if they differ greatly from me.

My challenge to you is to go to an event where not everyone is like you.

The Gap Is Real

Julia Koelsch (Chief Technology Officer) and I (Chief Executive Officer) hold leadership roles that are not typically held by women.

In a National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) report, Women In Tech: The Facts”, women find it difficult to advance into leadership roles such as CTO, CEO and board of directors. Only 11% CIO positions in the U.S. are held by women, and only 4% CEOs of S&P 500 companies are women.

The World Economic Forum reports that it will take 170 years before women gain equity across the world. In the US, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 for pay parity and Black women until 2124.

Mentor Women

We can all take action to accelerate this change. Mentoring and supporting women is a great way to help create equality for all women. This includes working with women on how to negotiate salaries, titles and positions of authority.

Julia helps organize and support local tech meetups, camps, and hackathons. She has been a mentor for UMSL’s Women’s Hackathon, which helps college women gain exposure and experience in technology.

Her commitment is to increase women’s awareness and participation in these community resources and events, so that any woman who has an interest in technology has the support, encouragement, and guidance necessary to achieve her goals.

My commitment is to continue our internship programs, including our participation in St. Louis Youth Jobs. I also plan to continue my support of UMSL’s IS area programs, especially their effort to send students to the Grace Hopper Women’s Conference and the Women’s Hackathon.

My challenge to you is to take a child, college student, or adult under your wing and help them soar.


I am one of those people who wants to change the world, and this is reflected where I spend my free time. Whether it’s raising money for women scholarships, telling my story to encourage bravery in others or making the connection that ignites the spark to help a women’s business take off, I will continue doing my best each day.

But I know the only way I can continue to grow and be an agent of change is to step outside my bubble – being challenged and uncomfortable is the only way I can move forward.

Spry at UMSL Women’s Hackathon

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Web Development.

For 11 straight hours in November, female IT students from the University of Missouri-St. Louis participated in the school’s first “Women’s Hackathon.” They were joined by experienced programmers from area companies such as Enterprise, MasterCard, Boeing and our own Julia Koelsch of Spry Digital.

The challenge presented was to form teams and build a game, web application, mobile app or desktop app designed to help organizations or communities prepare for an effective response for natural disasters. By the end of the event, the 30 students had created ten different prototyped applications. The entire session was provided to the participants for free.

We sat down with Julia to talk about the experience and learn more about the event.

Why was it that Spry wanted to participate this particular event?

It sounded really interesting for both participants and mentors. And events like this help students get interested in software development while learning from and interacting with professional developers.

What was your favorite part about the experience?

I loved working with my team and I was proud of the app we built. It helped people to communicate after a natural disaster. The idea was that you could set up account ahead of time, and if disaster hit in your area you would let the app know if you were OK. At minimum, it reduced the amount of people calling around all at once and reduced strain on communication towers.

What was the most valuable thing the students learned?

There was a brainstorm session first, which helped everyone get great ideas going, then narrow them all down. This approach helped emphasize that the best ideas or apps might just be the ones that you didn’t think about at first. They also provided the teams with Legos and asked us to demonstrate the app using the legos. This made you think more of logistics, which was not something I’d thought about before.

What were some examples of the disaster scenarios and the applications the teams came up with?

The groups were able to make up their own natural disasters. Our group focused on helping people communicate with each other after disaster, and others focused on connecting people with items to others who needed them. Some connected volunteers with volunteer opportunities. Others were games for kids which could be used to teach the kids what do if something happened.

Did the students seem well-prepared for the challenges?

Yes. Most of them had some background in the field and they were programming students. They all knew the basics and did well.

Why was it called a “Hackathon?”

The term means a combination of hack and marathon. This particular hackathon was only for one day, so it was even more condensed than your typical weekend hackathon. You have to get as much done as you can in the time given. The participants don’t come in as a pre-formed group, instead teams are formed randomly. Then you have to quickly decide what you are building based on strengths and talents of who is on the team.

Is there anything else you’d want people to know about the whole experience?

Overall it was just a great experience, and I hope UMSL continues to host this event.

This particular hackathon was specifically for women students, which is a great idea. The tech industry is still struggling with how to attract and retain women, and events like these are encouraging and supportive of women interested in a technical career. It’s a thrilling feeling to work together as a group and produce tangible results in such a short amount of time. The joy and feeling of satisfaction I get from building sites and apps is what I love about my career, and I am so happy I could share that feeling with future app developers.

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 22

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

It is dangerous to go alone. Take this SpryHive post.

In case you missed it, last night Spry Digital hosted the first DevOps meetup. It was a great success and we’re already looking forward to the next one.  If you want in on the next one, add your two cents to the discussion for a recurring date. In lay terms, DevOps (a mashup of Development and Operations) is a development method that focuses on collaboration and communication between software developers and IT operations. DevOps helps standardize development environments ensuring that products are delivered efficiently and easily tracked.

We know what you really came here for – the links. Without further ado, here’s our roundup of the week’s highlights:

Digging in for Developers


Emmet is a plugin for many popular text editors which greatly improves HTML and CSS workflow. Our front-end developer, Phil, swears by it. Simply put, it really speeds up writing code. Instead of having to type background-position: 0 0; all you have to type is ‘bgp’ and return. That line of code is expanded. What will you do with all that extra time?


Recommended by our developer, Ellen, Variance empowers engineers, designers, and analysts to build elegant bespoke data graphics for the web using only HTML and CSS. You never need to touch JavaScript. Plus, they look quite lovely.

Some more love for St. Louis Startup Scene

You might have noticed that St. Louis has been going through a bit of an innovation Renaissance lately.  Last week, funder Arch Grants announced it’s 2014 class of entrepreneurs, seeking to bring new and innovative startups to St. Louis. In this Medium article, a local entrepreneur shares why St. Louis is awesome for startups from a personal perspective. He has some glowing words for the city of St. Louis, both for it’s innovation capital and for the city itself. There are so many people in the St. Louis region working toward creating a better culture for entrepreneurs. Call us biased, but we’re pretty thrilled about that.

Marketing Madness

For some, the 21st century promises a brave new world of digital marketing. Our technology is rapidly evolving, and with it, our attention spans are decreasing just as quickly. Marketers are looking for the next big thing to cash in on both. Will marketing departments soon have a viral video position or start cranking out ads in .gif form?

Miscellaneous Shenanigans

Internet Citizenship Test

For those of us lucky enough (or should we say ‘old enough’) to remember the heady, Wild West days of Internet 1.0, this test of early internet virals is for you.  No word on if these whippersnappers with their LOL Cats and Cinnamon Challenges can get grandfathered in.

The OG Knight of Badassery

Christopher Lee turned 92 years awesome this week. The actor celebrated by releasing a symphonic metal album – his third. Lee started his career of professionally kicking butt working in the British Special Ops during WWII. Since then, he’s moved on to Hollywood, starring as Dracula, and in Bond movies, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. He transitioned to metal as an octogenarian. Proof that you’re only as old as you feel.

Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

You might have caught some of the media attention around the #YesAllWomen hashtag trending in the last few days. It’s a nuanced conversation and one that needs to be had. There have been a flurry of articles and thinkpieces put out this week on the topic, but one hit close to home. What do we do when a toxic cultural “norm” bleeds into a subculture? A dissection on how the narrative we’ve been ingesting in geek culture actually hurts women.

Binge Responsibly

Curious how long that marathon of Mad Men will take? Good thing there’s an app for that. Hope you have Dominoes on speed dial. You’re not going anywhere this weekend.

That’s it for SpryHive. Have a great weekend!