Two University of Dayton alumnae are shining a spotlight on the problems faced by women in the information technology industry - literally.

Sisters Eileen Trauth ’72 and Suzanne Trauth ’71 co-wrote a play, iDream, that explores those issues. Their work was supported by the National Science Foundation’s STEM initiative on science and technology.

The play will be performed Wednesday, Dec. 7, as a staged reading in the Black Box Theatre at Fitz Hall. The cast includes University faculty, staff and students, members of the Hope Road Youth and Community Theatre, and Karen Spina, an IT professional and wife of University President Eric F. Spina. The Trauth sisters will return to campus to participate in a talk-back session after the performance.

Women are significantly underrepresented in the IT field and the production seeks to shed light on barriers they face, including being marginalized for gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, and how to overcome them.

“The play is about three high school girls confronting their futures,” said Suzanne Trauth, a New Jersey-based playwright, novelist, screenwriter and nonfiction writer. “They don’t know anything about information technology. It’s fun to see their look at the IT world.”

Eileen Trauth is a professor of information sciences and technology, and women's, gender and sexuality studies at Penn State University. She has conducted more than 200 life history interviews with women working in the information technology field, where she collected stories about barriers and support.

The sisters collaborated on the play to share Eileen’s research in an engaging fashion, as required by the National Science Foundation grant.

“I could write an academic article for other professors, but we don’t reach the parents, the teachers and the young people themselves in this way,” Eileen said. “We also wanted to reach out beyond that and talk to ‘regular people.’ Theater is the best way to convey these messages to people.”

The staged reading is directed by Michelle Hayford, director of the University of Dayton theatre, dance and performance technology program. She said the play aligns with the University’s mission of social justice.

“I love that this is a play by two women UD alums who have based the script on interviews they conducted with women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related fields,” Hayford said. “It is a play with a social conscience and has us rooting for these women, while also feeling sympathetic to the complexity of the obstacles they are facing.”

Hayford cast the reading by invitation. The cast includes Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, executive director of the University of Dayton Human Rights Center; Larry Burnley, University vice president for diversity and inclusion; faculty members Donna Beran and Neomi DeAnda; and Hayford’s daughter, Phoebe.

“Karen Spina is a computer software engineer who holds two STEM-related degrees from Rutgers University and the University of Rochester, so I was happy this work resonated with her,” Hayford said.

The staged reading of iDream is 8 p.m. Wednesday at Fitz Hall, 1529 Brown St. Tickets are $12; $8 with University ID.

A “pay what you can” dress rehearsal performance at 8 p.m. Tuesday benefits the Dayton Regional STEM School’s “Girls in STEM” program.

For more information, call 937-229-3954 or follow this link.

- Dave Larsen and Karina Cabrera ’18

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