Posts Tagged ‘women’s equality’

C4W Member Profile: Dottie S. Ashley

August 10, 2011

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.

Women Call for Obama to Act: Linda Tarr-Whelan and Jacki Zehner

August 27, 2010

Yesterday we celebrated the 90th anniversary of women FINALLY getting the right to vote. To that end it is appropriate to look at how far we still have to go before we are equally represented. Ambassador Linda Tarr-Whelan has co-authored a wonderful piece on how women improve the success rate of everything.

By Linda Tarr-Whelan and Jacki Zehner – Aug 25, 2010 9:00 PM ET
Bloomberg Opinion

Today marks Women’s Equality Day, the commemoration of women’s suffrage achieved in 1920. What better time to take stock of what’s left to do?

We need a national conversation led by the White House to explore how women decision-makers can help achieve better economic performance and a more prosperous future for all.

The administration of Barack Obama has already taken the first step by appointing talented women — including Mary Schapiro, who holds the top job at the Securities and Exchange Commission; Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel; and Sheila Bair, who heads the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — to help dig us out of the financial mess.

Having a few females at the top is wonderful, but until we have at least 30 percent of senior women in leadership, we will be ignoring a strong dynamic that is working well elsewhere.

Today, a growing body of research that shows positive outcomes from having balanced leadership has been ignored. Other countries are addressing the fundamental issue of leadership in ways that have yet to gain much traction in the U.S. We can certainly do better.

Tapping the full range of talent that includes the skills, experience and leadership of women as well as men is hardly a radical idea. As the Economist magazine famously wrote in 2006, “Forget China, India and the Internet: Economic growth is driven by women.” An increasing number of reports show that having at least 30 percent of women in corporate and governmental leadership roles improves decision-making, opens up institutions and removes barriers to full participation.

Performance Driver

The U.S. has much to gain from a new leadership model. Economic growth and stock prices can only benefit.

New York-based consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has released a series of reports since 2007 making the case that gender diversity at the top is a corporate performance driver. Yet, they note that three-quarters of 1,500 biggest companies have no women on their management boards. Further, there are only 28 female chief executive officers in 1,000 largest companies.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm on Wall Street, recommends investing in countries where the gender gap is closing and where the “laws and social norms that have discriminated against women are shifting.” Its studies show gross-domestic-product growth accelerates when women hold positions of power. Goldman has created the 10,000 Women Initiative, a $100 million, five-year program to provide an advanced business education for women.

Costly Failures

Failing to address challenges that keep women out of leadership is costly. New York-based research group Catalyst Inc. has shown that firms with three or more women on management boards boosted their return on equity by 112 percent, compared with those with fewer women.

Recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined a fast- moving trend in Europe to achieve 30 percent to 40 percent women on corporate boards. The French are following the lead of Norway, Spain and the Netherlands, which have already moved to accomplish these goals. The World Bank and the United Nations’ Global Compact policy initiative have also recognized women’s advancement as essential to economic growth.

Michel Ferrary, a professor of management at the Skema Business School in Sophia Antipolis, France, studied the effects of balanced leadership in France during the financial crisis of 2007-08. “The more women there were in a company’s management, the less the share price fell in 2008,” he said.

Investment Concept

Similar results have been published by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and in the U.K., India and Australia. Gender equality, as an investment concept, has been taken up by mutual funds such as Pax World Investments, which recently started a Global Women’s Equality Fund betting that companies with more diverse leadership will perform better than others. A recent study by the National Council for Research on Women, based on data from Hedge Fund Research Inc., showed women hedge-fund managers outperformed their male counterparts.

Our country has nothing to lose and much to gain by addressing the lack of women in top leadership. But it won’t just happen. The U.S., a country that aspires to be a world leader, ranks a pathetic 31st out of 134 countries in eliminating the disparities between women and men in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.

On this 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage, President Obama should consider convening a White House Roundtable to find ways to increase the number of women decision-makers in the economy. Then we can celebrate women’s equality in America.

(Linda Tarr-Whelan is a Demos distinguished senior fellow, author of “Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World” and a former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Jacki Zehner is a consultant, vice chairman of the Women’s Funding Network, and a former partner and managing director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The opinions expressed are their own.)

To contact the writers of this column: Linda Tarr-Whelan at; Jacki Zehner at

What I learned at Harvard: Part 1

May 27, 2010

Jennet Robinson Alterman
Executive Director
Center for Women
Charleston, S.C.

Jennet pictured with Dr. Hannah Riley Bowles

Jennet pictured with Dr. Hannah Riley Bowles

Last week I was one of 60 women chosen to participate in a seminar on “Women and Power” at the Kennedy School at Harvard. Nineteen countries were represented. One of the 4 women elected to the Kuwaiti Parliament in 2009, the first year that women were allowed to run for political office, was in attendance along with the biggest real estate developer in Mongolia. We had a diverse makeup in terms of professional affiliations as well with several members of the military, both US and foreign, and the first woman chief of a South African Zulu tribe.

Hannah Riley Bowles was the coordinator and chief lecturer and she blew the top off the impact of gender when negotiating. She shared good solid data on how women needed to approach conflict resolution and how to negotiate for base pay and raises. She roped in some of the best talent on campus to share their research with us such as Iris Bohnet, the Director of the Kennedy School Women and Public Policy Program and a behavioral economist focused on questions of trust and decision-making, often with a gender and cross cultural perspective. Pippa Norris, the McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics had a wealth of knowledge on democratic institutions and cultures, gender politics and political communications in many countries. Andy Zellecke, a Lecturer in Public Policy is an expert on leadership and corporate governance. He helped us unravel the past governance turmoil at both the Red Cross and the Security Exchange Commission. Sara Lightfoot-Lawrence, a Macarthur prize winning sociologist, shared her experiences writing her newest book, The Third Chapter: Risk, Passion and Adventure in the Twenty Five years after 50.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, of Harvard Business School fame joined us for an evening. Her comments centered on the importance of confidence in creating winning organizations. I was truly honored to be in the presence of the person who coined the term ‘token woman’. Our last day, we were in the thrall of Ambassador Swanee Hunt, an expert on women in politics and dedicated advocate for women’s rights worldwide. She reminded us that every time we speak before a group, we are auditioning for leadership and went on to share her recommendations for finding one’s voice.

It was a whirlwind and the days passed quickly, but the themes became evident early on. Understanding the differences between power and leadership, learning how groups come to decisions, effective conflict resolution, good governance, and the importance of negotiation and presentation skills. All of these add up to the formula for becoming a powerful leader. As women, we need more nuanced approaches in order to succeed. We all have these skills on some level, but for one week I was able to operate above that baseline and learn what it takes to soar. I am bringing that home now and will look forward to continuing the discussions here at the Center for Women. I am interested in providing a forum for such discussions and ask anyone who is interested in participating to speak up now.

I also anticipate expanding our programming to include more learning opportunities on the subjects addressed at this seminar. We have the talent in this community to offer programs on how gender affects so many management skills. We also have the role models who can share their expertise in navigating the shoals of their careers. What holds us back from seeking power and leadership positions? Help me answer that question by sending me your thoughts on how we can position Lowcountry women to take their rightful place at the decision and policy making tables.

Presidential Proclamation on Women’s Equality!

August 26, 2009

Today President Barack Obama issued a proclamation in honor of women’s equality day. Read it and cheer!

– – – – – – –
Today, our country renews its commitment to freedom and
justice for all our citizens. As we prepare to celebrate this
women’s day of equality, we reflect on the sacrifices once made
to allow women and girls the basic rights and choices we freely
exercise today. The future we leave to our daughters and
granddaughters will be determined by our willingness to build on
the achievements of our past and move forward as one people and
one Nation. The fight for women’s equality is not a woman’s
agenda, but an American agenda.
We honor the resilience, accomplishments, and history of
all women in the United States. We celebrate the courageous
women who fought to uphold a fundamental principle within our
Constitution — the right to vote — and in so doing, protected
the cornerstone of our vibrant democracy. These visionaries of
the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 sought to ensure that our
country lived up to its founding ideals. Although only one,
Charlotte Woodward, at the age of 81, had the opportunity to
exercise her newfound right, the struggle reminds us that no
righteous cause is a lost one. We also commemorate women like
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a poet and lecturer who formed
the National Association of Colored Women; Antonia Pantoja,
a tireless advocate of education equality within the Latino
community; Sarah Winnemucca, a voice for peace within the
Native American community; and Patsy Mink, author of Title IX
and the first woman of color and Asian American woman elected
to the United States Congress. These women’s talents, and the
contributions of countless others, built upon the framework of
1848 and forged paths for future generations.
Our Nation has come a long way since that ground-breaking
convention in New York. Women have occupied some of the most
significant positions in government. They have delivered
justice from the bench of our highest court, fought for our
country in foreign lands, discovered cures to diseases, and
joined the ranks of the greatest business leaders of our time.
Female college graduates now outnumber their male counterparts.
Women have sought equality through government, demonstrated
by the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and
the establishment of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
They have sought equality through advocacy, exemplified by the
efforts of thousands of women’s organizations. America has made
significant progress toward becoming the fair and just society
the suffragists once envisioned.
Yet, today, our work remains unfinished. Far too many
adult women remain mired in poverty. Women are still subject to
pervasive discrimination at school and harassing conduct in the
workplace. Women make, on average, only 78 cents for every
dollar paid to men. Underrepresented in many facets of our
economic and public life, from government to boardrooms to
the sciences, women have yet to eradicate all barriers to
professional development.
We stand at a moment of unparalleled change and a time
for reflection and hope. We cannot allow the vibrant energy
and passionate commitment of our trailblazing women to fade,
and we can never forget the responsibility we bear to the ideals
of liberty and equality for all. Each generation of successful
women serves as a catalyst to empower, enlighten, and educate
the next generation of girls and boys, and we must devote
ourselves to promoting this catalyst for change now and in
the future.
On this Women’s Equality Day, we resolve to continue the
important work of our Nation’s foremothers and their successors,
and turn their vision of a more equal America into our reality.
United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby
proclaim August 26, 2009, as Women’s Equality Day. I call upon
the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements
of women and recommit themselves to the goal of true gender
equality in this country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand
nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America
the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
# # #

Center for Women Executive Director’s College of Charleston Commencement Address

January 7, 2009

By Jennet Robinson Alterman
December 20, 2008

Dr. Jennet Robinson Alterman delivers CofC Commencement Address

Dr. Jennet Robinson Alterman delivers CofC Commencement Address

Madame Chairman, President Benson, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff…my thanks to you.  To my esteemed fellow Doctors of Humane Letters…Mary Ramsay and Lucille Whipper…we have certainly come a long way and folks don’t even think of calling any of us baby.  I am humbled to be in your esteemed company.  

To you the class of twenty oh eight…Congratulations…you have made it!!!  Now before I start I need to know a few things…Will all of the women who are receiving degrees today please raise your hand…You and Mary and Lucille and I would not be receiving degrees today were it not for a woman named Carrie Pollitzer.

Today we are celebrating 90 years of coeducation at the College of Charleston…but for an educational institution founded in the 1700’s it is interesting to look at what prompted the longstanding male student body and faculty to change their minds and admit women… You all need to know the story of Carrie Pollitzer…Carrie was one of the three Pollitzer sisters of Charleston…Carrie, Mabel and Anita. All 3 of them went to Columbia University in New York because there was no higher education institution for them to attend in Charleston in the early 1900s. In April of 1917 the United States entered World War One. Thousands and thousands of men began to be shipped overseas. Carrie Pollitzer was running the first kindergarten program in Charleston in a carriage house behind her family home on Pitt. St. She had been concerned for a long time that the College of Charleston did not admit female students. So in light of the impact the war would have on student enrollment she though it an appropriate time to press her case with the College Administration. She took it upon herself to call on Dr. Randolph, the President of the College at that time. She implored him to allow women to be admitted. Dr. Randolph, who adamantly opposed coeducation refused to consider her plea. But Carrie pressed on asking for a concrete reason for continuing to not allow women. He finally said to her that the College couldn’t afford to admit women as they didn’t have the money to add a separate ladies room. Carrie took that as her call to arms. When asked how much building a rest room would cost he told her it would cost $3000…which was a fortune in 1917. He obviously thought that a sum that size would intimidate  Carrie into dropping the subject of coeducation. Au contra ire…instead Carrie said…let me see what I can do. She spent that summer (before AC!) and fall going door to door asking for donations from friends and neighbors and by the end of the year she had raised $3000.

And in fall of 1918 ten women were enrolled at the College of Charleston…and now today all of us follow in their footsteps.  

Read the rest here.

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