Norma arrived in Berkeley in the mid-sixties with an undergraduate degree from University of Michigan in nursing, which she hated. Having never taken a sociology course, she plunged into graduate school to study social movements and social change, inspired especially by Herbert Blumer. Active in the anti-war movement, Norma wrote her dissertation on 'Vietnam and the Veterans' Consciousness' with William Kornhauser and Arlie Hochschild as committee members.
Norma taught at UC Santa Cruz from 1971 to 1990. Her co-authored book Up Against the Clock: Career Women Speak on the Choice to Have Children (1979) and her articles on reproductive technology are still timely. Combining her sociological skills and activist concerns, she became founding director from 1980-82 of the National Judicial Education Program on Gender Bias in the Courts, a project of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund and wrote extensively on women in the courts. She continued speaking, organizing conferences, and consulting with state task forces after moving to Costa Rica in 1992 to grow organic pineapples.
Norma was an intense, vital, funny person and a brilliant organizer. She never flagged in her commitment to the 'class struggle.' In 2001 she moved to New York to search for a place for herself in the cause, but it wasn't there. Refusing to compromise, she took her own life on May 27, 2002. A bench in Central Park is dedicated to her memory. The plaque reads Norma Juliet Wikler. Outraged and Outrageous.