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Ruth A. Wallace Award Statement

Ruth A. Wallace, George Washington University

Ruth Wallace has spent her career working for the inclusion of women as subjects of sociological study, as leaders in religious organizations, and as scholars within the profession. A prolific scholar, with seven books and numerous research articles to her credit, Wallace’s work as been foundational in transforming the way sociologists view religious institutions. She has been at the forefront of research incorporating women into the sociological study of religion, including the ways organized religious institutions exclude women or limit their participation and how those limits have been challenged in recent decades. Her path-breaking book, The Call Her Pastor, was the first to explore the use of women as parish leaders as a solution to the shortage of parish priests within the American Catholic Church. She has brought to light issues of leadership, marginality, and struggle in traditional institutions, including the Catholic Church and the academy. Ruth Wallace is a gifted social theorist as well. Her widely recognized books and articles on sociological theory consistently identify pivotal and innovative insights by women theorists, incorporates information about women into the body of theoretical discourse that sociologists employ, and insists on the centrality of this work to social research and the teaching of sociology. The tremendous energy she has brought to mentoring others in the discipline and her service to professional organizations has been rewarded with the presidency of two scholarly associations (Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Association for the Sociology of Religion) and numerous elected offices (including chair of the ASA Sections on Theory and Sociology of Religion). In recognition of her impact within the field, Ruth Wallace has been awarded distinguished lectureships at several host institutions. Ruth Wallace’s life work as expanded our intellectual universe in ways befitting the legacy of Jessie Bernard.