When Dr. Karen Owen was an undergraduate, she was inspired by one of her professors for her ability to teach students beyond the classroom. Now Owen, an Assistant Professor of Public Administration and the Director of the MPA Program, is taking a similar path after publishing her book “Women Officeholders and the Role Models Who Pioneered the Way.”
Freshman McKayla Parmele, a political science major who aims to one day play a part in the nation’s government, values Owen’s efforts and feels as if her professor’s experience places higher value on the education she provides. When asked about the effects Owen’s book may have on its readers, Parmele said “they’ll read it and get inspired and then want to change the world.”
Prior to her career at Reinhardt, Owen worked for members of Congress in the early 2000s. During her time there, she became interested in why women serve in Congress and why there is such a low number of women serving compared to men. “I kept thinking, ‘what was it like to be a woman working [on Capitol Hill] and why did they run for office?’” said Owen.
Owen said that because there is a limited number of women in the congressional body, women tend to overcompensate to earn their spot. While writing her book, she came to believe that women are more focused on citizens and work with many groups to focus on a variety of interests. Owen also commented that men are capable of these attributes, however, due to women’s natural tendency to be nurturing, they have different strengths to offer.
“A lot of political science research has focused on different legislatures, how they’re different in politics than men or that really examine how they build consensus, so women are much more likely to sit down and listen to everyone at a table no matter what their partisanship, or no matter what their background.” said Owen. “They will bring everyone to the table and listen to each one and then they want to build consensus, so they’re much more likely to negotiate. Women are also likely to compromise as part of that consensus building, they’re willing to give a little bit to get the end goal being there.”
Parmele agrees that women have specific ways to aid politics. “Women have drive, and they have charisma, and they have to work harder to get to where they’re at, so I think they’re more work-oriented and more work-focused.”
The book’s main idea was to understand the concept of women needing a mentor or role model in order to motivate their running for higher political office “so the main thing I want anyone who reads the book to understand is that there have been obstacles for women to be involved in politics, but if they see someone who has been successful and they have a mentor, someone who will come in and encourage them, they’re more likely to run, they’re more likely to participate, which was lacking in our knowledge of political science,” said Owen.
Owen is interested in furthering her research on women in politics and has developed two more potential ideas for books that stem from concepts in her first book. Regarding to how women handle working in politics, Owen said, “it’s seeing that she can win and what she can overcome, because there are a lot of obstacles, there’s discrimination, and women, as we’ve just seen in the recent political election, women have a lot of double standards they have to come across.”
Written by: Jordan Beach