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Wendy M Williams

Professor of Human Development, Cornell University

Wendy M. Williams is Professor in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University, where she studies the development, assessment, training, and societal implications of intelligence. She holds PhD and Master's degrees in psychology from Yale University, a Master's in physical anthropology from Yale, and a BA in English and biology from Columbia University, awarded cum laude with special distinction. In the fall of 2009, Williams founded (and now directs) the Cornell Institute for Women in Science (CIWS), a National Institutes of Health-funded research and outreach center that studies and promotes the careers of women scientists. She also heads "Thinking Like A Scientist," a national education-outreach program funded by the National Science Foundation, which is designed to encourage traditionally-underrepresented groups (girls, people of color, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds) to pursue science education and careers. In the past, Williams directed the joint Harvard-Yale Practical and Creative Intelligence for School Project, and was Co-Principal Investigator for a six-year, $1.4 million Army Research Institute grant to study practical intelligence and success at leadership.

In addition to dozens of articles and chapters on her research, Williams has authored nine books and edited five volumes. They include The Reluctant Reader (sole authored), How to Develop Student Creativity (with Robert Sternberg), Escaping the Advice Trap (with Stephen Ceci; reviewed in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today), Practical Intelligence for School (with Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, Tina Blythe, Noel White, and Jin Li), Why Aren’t More Women in Science? (with Stephen Ceci; winner of a 2007 Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Mathematics of Sex (with Stephen Ceci). She also writes regular invited editorials for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Williams's research has been featured in Nature, American Scientist, Newsweek, Business Week, Science, Scientific American, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Child Magazine, among other media outlets. She was series editor for The Lawrence Erlbaum Educational Psychology Series and she served on the Editorial Review Boards of the journals Psychological Bulletin, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Applied Developmental Psychology, and Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, as well as the book publisher Magination Press (American Psychological Association Books).

Williams is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and four divisions of the American Psychological Association (APA) – general psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, and media psychology – and she served two terms as Member-at-Large of the executive committee of the Society for General Psychology (Division 1 of APA). She was also program chair and dissertation award committee chair for Divisions 1 (general psychology), 3 (experimental psychology), and 15 (educational psychology) of APA. In 1995 and 1996 her research won first-place awards from the American Educational Research Association. Williams received the 1996 Early Career Contribution Award from Division 15 (educational psychology) of APA, and the 1997, 1999, and 2002 Mensa Awards for Excellence in Research to a Senior Investigator. In 2001, APA named her the sole recipient of the Robert L. Fantz Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology in recognition of her outstanding contributions to research in the decade following receipt of the PhD. Williams was also named a 2007-8 G Stanley Hall Lecturer by APA. In 2014, she won second place in the National Institutes of Health "Great Ideas" Challenge for her research proposal to study race and gender influences on the grant-review process.


  • –present
    Professor of Human Development, Cornell University