Dr. Karen Owen, a political science professor at UWG, is paving a strong path for women running for a political office.
She is currently gaining a regional and national reputation for her experience in political science and gender issues. Owen attributes her interest in politics to her grandmother.
“My grandmother was an avid political TV watcher,” said Owen. “We watched Regan’s second inauguration ceremony together and remember becoming fascinated with how someone was talking about wanting to change the country.”
Owen was involved in political science even during her teenage years. When Owen was fifteen, she went on a trip to Washington, D.C., and was able to participate in the law-making process.
“That is when I fell in love with everything politics and political,” said Owen. “I was captivated by everything I saw.”
As Owen became older and was deciding what career she wanted to pursue, she did not see herself going into the political arena despite her love for it. Instead, she went to the University of Georgia (UGA) to study biology in hopes of becoming a doctor. While studying at UGA, Owen enrolled in a political science course which ignited her passion for the field of study once again.
After graduating from UGA in December of 2001, Owen went to work the following month as a legislative analyst for the Governmental Affairs office at Ford Motor Company in Atlanta. Within her position, she tracked legislation and oversaw what candidates received donations. After a year she went back to UGA to receive her master’s degree in public administration.
After working for Nathan Deal as a legislative assistant in Congress for two years in Washington, D.C, Owen headed back to Georgia where she worked at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. While at the CDC, she prepared briefing materials to take to congress.
While being a professor, Owen has also written a book, Women Officeholders and the Role Models Who Pioneered the Way, which she uses for material in her gender and politics course. Currently, she is working on her second book, Special Elections: The Back-Door Entrance to Congress, where Owen and Dr. Charles S. Bullock of UGA focus on special elections in the U.S. House from the end of World War II to the end of 2018.
Although Owen has been involved in many things, she continues to work hard for her goals. In July she started a nonprofit called VoteHer. The goal of the newly founded organization is to encourage women to run for office and voice their opinions.
“VoteHer is focused on educating, encouraging and engaging women to get involved in politics,” said Owen. “VoteHer is focusing on four main areas: getting more women in voting, advocating about policy, running for office and serving on boards and commissions.
“My work in VoteHer is really an extension from my academic pieces,” continued Owen. “A huge priority of mine is to get all of my students, male or female, to get involved politically.”
As a mother of two, Owen is passionate about getting her children involved. She tries her best to teach her kids about the political process and what she is doing as a political advocate.
“I explain to my daughter that I am doing this for her,” said Owen. “VoteHer is for her. I want her to see that she has a role and that politics is not just for boys. It is for her as well.”
Throughout her journey in political research, Owen has always had mentors who have inspired her to be better at what she does. Because of this, she has a desire to mentor others as well.
“It is very rewarding for me when my students ask me to be their mentor,” said Owen. “That is really my goal for my entire life, whether it is as a professor or with VoteHer, is to be the right mentor to individuals and help them on their journey.”