She was born in the Dublin suburb of Clontarf and following secondary education in the local Holy Faith School, began work for Dublin Corporation in the city treasurer’s department. While working, she studied for a diploma in public administration in Trinity College Dublin.
During her time working in the Corporation, she became an advocate of equal pay for women, and became active in the Irish Local Government Officials' Union (now part of the IMPACT trade union). She held several senior union positions before being elected the first woman president of the union in 1967. She was a member of the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, chairman of its women’s advisory committee and a member of the Council for the Status of Women.
She was elected to Seanad Éireann on the Labour Panel at the 1969 Seanad election, and was re-elected in 1973. She served as Leas-Chathaoirleach (Deputy Speaker) of the Seanad from 1973 to 1977. She was defeated at the 1977 Seanad election.
In 1984 she was appointed to the Labour Court, first as deputy chairperson and subsequently as chairperson, a position she held from 1994 until 1998. After her retirement in 1998, she served as a member of the board of Beaumont Hospital and of the Irish Medical Council.
- Need to Train Local Officials Underlined, Irish Times, 17 June 1967, page 6.
- "Evelyn P. Owens". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
- New Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of Labour Court Archived 24 July 2012 at Archive.today, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment press release, 27 July 1998.
- Ex-Labour senator scored many firsts for women, Irish Times, 2 October 2010.