Wilma L. Rule
Wilma L. Rule, Adjunct Professor, University of Nevada, Reno died
on January 15, 2004 at her home in Alpine County, California of a
massive stroke. She was a dedicated scholar whose focus was
gender and politics with particular interest in electoral
systems. Wilma's work is highly respected by specialists in
electoral reform. She served as a long-time-Secretary-Treasurer
of the Section on Representation and Electoral Systems of the
American Political Science Association.
Wilma was born on September 19, 1925 in a ranching family in
Basin, Wyoming, but was reared in Los Angeles. She received a B.A.
in Political Science and in Journalism in 1949 and an M.A. in
Political Science in 1950, from the University of California at
Berkeley. Her Ph.D. was granted by the University of Hawaii in 1968.
She was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship for the Inter-University
Consortium for Political Research at the University of Michigan, and
did additional post-doctoral work in Organizational Behavior at
Northwestern University. She was an Assistant Professor at Northern
Illinois University 1969-1975.
Her study of gender and politics, published in the American
Political Science Review ("Political Implications of Gender
Roles: A Review of the Literature, 1974) led to a lifetime of
research on electoral systems, and how they facilitated of hindered
the election of women and underrepresented minorities to public
office. Her theoretical work had a practical dimension, the
promotion of electoral reform in the United States and other
nations. Her theoretical interest was underpinned by empirical
research, prompted by her questioning why, at the time, there were
only five percent women legislators in the U.S. House and Senate,
compared to close to forty percent in Scandinavian countries. This
led to an initial journey to Finland to interview women
legislatures, which set the pattern for subsequent research trips to
other countries, including Norway and Russia.
Wilma's research resulted in a number of articles and the
publication of United States Electoral Systems,
1992, and Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective,
1994, both co-edited with Professor Joseph F. Zimmerman of State
University of New York at Albany. Wilma's interviews of Russian
legislators and political leaders was the basis of Russian Women
in Politics and Society, 1966, co-edited with Professor Norma
C. Noonan of Augsburg College, Minnesota. These were followed
by The U.S. House of Representatives, Reform or Rebuild?,
2000, also co-edited with Professor Zimmerman. Wilma published some
two dozen articles in professional journals, and presented over 25
papers at professional meetings in the United States and abroad.
Work on her latest book, "Equal Gender Politics: 21st Century," was
cut short by her death.
Wilma was married to Professor Irving Krauss, a sociologist, and
they had endless discussions of whether that discipline or political
science was better in understanding what went on in society.
They lived ten years in Hawaii, which was followed by sixteen in
Illinois. They retired to Alpine County, on the eastern slope
of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Wilma is survived by Irving and
Besides her scholarly work Wilma was active in local politics. In
Hawaii she played a mojor role in election to the U.S. House of
Representatives of Patsy Mink, co-author of Title IX of the Education
Act Amendments of 1972, which mandated equal funding of men's and
women's athletics in educational institutions. In Alpine County she
was active in community affairs, and served as a member of the
county's 1991 Redistricting Committee. In that capacity she was
responsible for establishing a serparate voting district for the
county's Native Americans, which resulted in a seat on the Board of
Supervisors as well as on the School Board. Prior to that, even
though the Native Americans comprised twenty percent of the
population, and were concentrated geographically, they lacked
A good part of her work and achievements took place while she
suffered from serious health problems. Yet she had a zest for
living, and her professional colleagues and members of ther
community will miss her inquiring mind, her gentle nature, and her
concern for others.
Professor of Sociology