Gayle Wilson graduated from Stanford University, earning a BA with Distinction in Biology in addition to being elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. For 20 years, Wilson was an active community volunteer in San Diego prior to marrying then-U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson and moving to Washington, D.C.
When her husband was elected Governor of California in 1990, Wilson served as First Lady of California during his two terms as Governor. As First Lady her primary areas of focus were early childhood health and math/science programs for academically talented high school students. In 2000, she was the founding chair, and is now chair emeritus, of the COSMOS (The California State Summer School for Math and Science) advisory board. COSMOS is a four-week residential educational enrichment program on the University of California campuses.
Wilson has served as a Caltech Trustee since 1995, and she has served on the board of the Center for Excellence in Education, serving one term as chairman. Later she joined the Society for Science & the Public (now Society for Science) Board of Trustees. Wilson is currently on the board of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and has also served as the board’s chair. Wilson recently retired after 18 years as a director of Gilead Sciences. Inc. She served on the selection committee for the GE/Reagan Scholars and for the White House Fellows program, both regionally and nationally.
Wilson is an alumna of the 1960 Science Talent Search.