What is your profession? Arts Columnist, theater and dance critic and general features writer for S.C.’s two largest newspapers, The State in Columbia and the Post and Courier in Charleston for a total of 37 years; the the only newspaper writer to win the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award given each year by the S.C. Arts Commission for excellence in supporting and promoting the arts.; also, one of 10 dance critics throughout the U.S., selected by the United States Information Agency in 1990 for a month-long visit to Moscow and Tbilisi, in then-Soviet Georgia, to write about the famous Vaganova method of ballet. Is the only dance writer to twice win a Dance Critic Fellowship from the NEA to spend a month, with 12 other dance writers from the U.S. and Canada, writing about dancers from all over the world who performed at the American Dance Festival at Duke University in the summers of 1985 and 2005. In 1981, she was one of 10 theater critics from all over the world to win a Critics Institute Fellowship to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Conn. where she spent a month critiquing new plays, featuring Broadway actors in the casts.
In September, Dottie will assume her new job as the Arts Columnists and feature writer with The Charleston Mercury newspaper, which is published every other Thursday by the Post and Courier. She will also continue to write for Sandlapper Magazine, based in Columbia, and for other publications.
What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Outside my career, I enjoy dancing and swimming for exercise; traveling to New York to see Broadway plays with my husband, Dr. Franklin Ashley, a theater professor at the College of Charleston.
How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? I’ve been a Center for Women member for at least six years.
What inspired you to become a member? I joined because I truly believe that women need to ban together to fight for equality and to help not only themselves, but also each other. It’s criminal that in 2011 women still make less money than men for doing the same work or holding the same positions. Also, at the newspaper, the top editors are still men, as are most politicians, who make the laws that often greatly affect only the lives, especially the freedom of women.
Another reason my husband Franklin and I were inspired to become members of the Center for Women was that weI had the unforgettable pleasure of briefly knowing Executive Director Jennet Robinson Alterman’s parents, Pat and Emmett Robinson. When we moved to Charleston as newly weds in 1966, the Robinsons had been notified by one of their old friends and a frequent actor at the Footlight Players, Dr. Frank Durham, that his protege, whom he had taught in graduate school at USC, Franklin Ashley, then 24, was to be teaching at The Citadel that fall, and was moving to Charleston with his new wife. I remember that, following the first production that fall, directed by Emmett at the Footlight Players, that afterward, Jennet’s mother, Pat, an accomplished actress and author on her own, sought us out and invited us to an intimate, opening-night gathering at their beautiful home for drinks and a light supper. They kindly introduced us to several other theater-supporters and actors, some of whom became instant friends of ours. As Franklin once noted: “Emmett could do it all: write, direct, design sets and costumes and teach. Because of this, and the fact he was such a nice person, made him a never-to-be-replaced contributor to the lasting success of theater in Charleston. “
What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? I have enjoyed meeting interesting people through my membership, and in the future hope to become more active in the organization as my work load will not be as heavy. Also, my husband, Franklin has been a Center for Women member for several years, as he believes in its goals and also in the equality of women in society.
How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? Over the decades, I’ve found that women do not assert themselves as strongly as men do. Also they fail to promote their accomplishments to their higher-ups and supervisors, and they are often afraid to ask for raises. However, men often assume its their right to ask for more money because they feel they are honestly worth it. I’ve discovered the hard way, that it’s often a double-edged sword, in that most men, seem to resent assertive women and often feel threatened by them. Also, if a woman makes a mistake, she is often punished for it no matter how excellent she has performed in the past. With men, even if it’s truly a fireable offense, the opposite occurs.