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In Memoriam

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 several cousins.

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 representation.

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.


Irving Krauss
Professor of Sociology Emeritus
Northern Illinois University


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