Karen O’Connor is the Founder and Director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University. She is the Jonathan N. Helfat Distinguished Professor of Political Science, the first named chair in the School of Public Affairs. In 2007, she was the Professor of the Year for the University Honors Department and in 2003 she was American University’s Scholar-Teacher of the Year. She formerly served as the Chair of the Department of Government after teaching at Emory University from 1977 to 1995 where she held appointments in Political Science and Law and was the recipient of its highest teaching award.
Dr. O’Connor received her Ph.D. and J.D. from SUNY Buffalo. She has written, co-authored, and edited several books, including Gendering American Politics, Perspectives from the Literature; Women and Congress: Running, Winning, and Ruling; No Neutral Ground: Abortion Politics in an Age of Absolutes; Women, Politics, and American Society, 4th ed.; and the mostly widely used college American government textbook in the country, American Government: Continuity and Change, 9th ed. (with Larry Sabato). She is also the author of over 50 articles in scholarly journals, law reviews and book chapters on women, politics, and the law. Her areas of specialty are women and politics, women and the law, and reproductive rights.
Dr. O’Connor edited the scholarly journal, Women & Politics from 1999-2003 and she currently serves as president of the Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association. She formerly served as the president of that Association’s Law and Courts research section. She recently received the biennial Southern Political Science Association Manninq J. Dauer Jr. Award for exceptional service to the profession. She also won the SPSA Marian Irish award for Best Paper on Women in Politics in 2005, co-authored with a former student.