Wendy Williams



Wendy M. Williams is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Cornell University, where she studies the development, assessment, training, and societal implications of intelligence and cognitive performance in real-world contexts. She holds Ph.D. and Master's degrees in psychology from Yale University, a Master's in physical anthropology from Yale, and a B.A. 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 TimesThe 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 wrote 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 Ph.D. 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.

Research Focus

I identify, study, assess, and train various aspects of intelligence that lead to success in real-world environments, particularly practical or real-world intelligence. I also study societal implications of intelligence in its many forms. My work spans two domains: basic research (e.g., identifying, modeling, and assessing the components of practical thinking and reasoning) and applied research (e.g., training practical and creative thinking skills). The goal of all my research is to expand conceptions of meaningful human thinking and reasoning to include those types of thinking that result in real-world success, and to apply this knowledge to better understand and solve critical societal problems. My primary current focus is a program of research on cognitive and social-cognitive sex differences, and their implications for women's versus men's academic career choices. In November 2009, I founded—and now direct—the Cornell Institute for Women in Science (CIWS), funded by the National Institutes of Health. CIWS conducts basic and applied research on women in science, focusing on empiricism rather than advocacy to understand and enhance women’s scientific careers.



  • Williams, W. M., Blythe, T., White, N., Li, J., Sternberg, R. J., & Gardner, H. I. (1996). Practical intelligence for school. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Williams, W. M. (1996). The reluctant reader: Why children don't choose to read and how to help them. New York: Warner Books. (Translated into German and Chinese in 1997; published by iPublish internet publishing service in 2000)
  • Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W. M. (2010). The mathematics of sex: How biology and society conspire to limit talented women and girls. New York: Oxford University Press. (Reviewed in Science : Miller, R. T. (2009). Women in science: Preference and penalties differ, Vol. 326 (20 November 2009), 1063-4)
  • Williams, W. M. (Ed.) (2000). Ranking ourselves: Intelligence testing, affirmative action, and educational policyPsychology, Public Policy, and Law, 6(1). (Guest Editor of American Psychological Association journal)
  • Sternberg, R. J., & Williams, W. M. (2010). Educational psychology, second edition. Boston: Merrill. (Introductory college-level textbook)
  • Williams, W. M. (Ed.) (2002). Teaching children real-world knowledge and reasoningDevelopmental Review, 22. (Guest Editor of Special Issue)
  • Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W. M. (Eds.) (2007). Why aren’t more women in science? Top researchers debate the evidence. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association Books. (Winner: 2007 Independent Publisher Book Award--Bronze Award, 65 national categories, 2,690 books submitted for 2007 awards; Reviewed in Science , 13 July 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5835, pp. 199-200: Women in Science: Can Evidence Inform the Debate? by Marcia C. Linn; Reviewed in Science News , March 24, 2007, Vol. 171, page 191; Reviewed in Scientific American Mind: Branan, N. (2007), A Lab of Her Own, review of Why Aren’t More Women in Science?, p. 81, vol. 18, number 1, Feb.-Mar. 2007; Reviewed in five additional journals/periodicals.)


  • Williams, W.M., & Ceci, S.J. (2017). Charles Murray’s ‘Provocative’ talk. Gray Matter Editorial, Sunday New York Times, April 16, 2017.
  • Williams, W. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2015; April 13). National Hiring Experiments Reveal 2 to-1 Faculty Preference for Women on STEM Tenure Track. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 , no. 17, 5360–5365. (Ranked 14th-highest-impact science article in the world for 2015; Ranked #2 of 1,002 articles in PNAS; 178th highest impact of 4,662,000 total articles in scholarly database—Top 0.00004% of all scholarly articles; downloaded 235,000 times as of July 2019) http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/04/08/1418878112.abstract DOI:10.1073/pnas.1418878112
  • Williams, W. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2012). When scientists choose motherhood. American Scientist, 100 (2), 138-145. (Feature article) PMID: 24596430
  • Williams, W.M., Mahajan, A., Thoemmes, F., Barnett, S.M., Vermeylen, F., Cash, B., & Ceci, S.J. (2017). Does gender of administrator matter? National study explores university administrators’ attitudes about retaining women STEM professors. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00700
  • Williams, W.M., & Ceci, S.J. (2015). The myth about women in science. CNN Editorial. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/13/opinions/williams-ceci-women-in-science/index.html
  • Williams, W. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2014, November 2). Academic science isn’t sexist. The Sunday New York Times, “Gray Matter” Editorial. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/opinion/sunday/academic-science-isnt-sexist.html?_r=0
  • Williams, W. M., Barnett, S. M., & Wethington, E. (2015). What women in science need to know about work-life balance. In Success Strategies of Women in Science: A Portable Mentor (P. Pritchard, Ed.). New York: Elsevier.
  • Williams, W.M., & Ceci, S.J. (2015). Describing applicants in gendered language might influence academic science hiring. American Scientist. Published May 7, 2015. http://www.americanscientist.org/blog/pub/gendered-language-science-hiring
  • Williams, W. M. (2018). Underrepresentation of women in science. Frontiers in Psychology, 22 January 2018. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02352
  • Williams, W. M., Barnett, S. M., & Sumner, R. A. (2013). Where are all the women in academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields? In S. Vinnicombe, R. J. Burke, S. Blake-Beard, & L. L. Moore (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Promoting Women’s Careers. London: Edward Elgar.
  • Valla, J. M., & Williams, W. M. (2012). Increasing achievement and higher-education representation of under-represented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields: A review of current K-12 intervention programs. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 18 (1), 21–53. PMID: 22942637
  • Ceci, S.J. & Williams, W.M. (2018). Socio-political values infiltrate the assessment of scientific research. In J. Crawford & L. Jussim (Eds.), The Politics of Social Psychology. London: Taylor & Francis.
  • Sternberg, K., Williams, W. M., & Sternberg, R.J. (2019). How parents can maximize children’s cognitive abilities. In M. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of Parenting. London: Routledge.
  • Ceci, S.J., & Williams, W.M. (2018). Who decides what is acceptable speech on campus? A psycho-legal analysis. Perspectives in Psychological Science.
  • Ceci, S. J., Williams, W. M., & Barnett, S. M. (2009, March). Women’s underrepresentation in science: Sociocultural and biological considerations. Psychological Bulletin, 135 (2) : 218-261. PMID: 1925407
  • Ceci, S. J. & Williams, W. M. (2010). Sex Differences in Math-Intensive Fields. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(5) , 275-279. (“Most downloaded article” of October 2010 on Association for Psychological Science website) PMID: 21152367
  • Whitecraft, M. A. & Williams, W. M. (2011). Why are there so few women computer scientists? In: Making Software: What Really Works, and Why We Believe It (second edition), ed. G. Wilson. Cambridge, MA: Riley.
  • Ceci, S. J. & Williams, W. M. (2011). Understanding current causes of women's underrepresentation in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108: 3157-3162 (issue 8); (featured as first article profile in "This Week in PNAS" and downloaded 67,000 times and cited 529 times as of January 2018). PMID: 21300892
  • Barnett, S.M., Rindermann, H., Williams, W. M., & Ceci, S.J. (2011). The relevance of intelligence for society: Predictiveness and relevance of IQ for societal outcomes. In S. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence. Pages 666-682.
  • Williams, W. M., & Barnett, S.M. (2013). Modern Critique of IQ and testing. In P. L. Mason (Ed.), Race and Racism, 2nd edition. New York: Macmillan.
  • Rindermann, H., Ceci, S. J. & Williams, W. M. (2013). Whither cognitive talent? Understanding high ability, its development, relevance and furtherance. In S. B. Kaufman (Ed.), Beyond Talent or Practice: The Complexity of Greatness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ceci, S. J., Ginther, D., Khan, S., & Williams, W. M. (2014). Women in science: A changing landscape. Psychological Science in the Public Interest (whole-issue, book-length article).
  • DeFraine, W.C., Williams, W.M., & Ceci, S.J. (2014). Attracting STEM talent: Do STEM students prefer traditional or work/life-interaction labs? PLoS ONE 9(2):e89801. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089801 PMID: 24587044
  • Ceci, S. J., Ginther, D., Kahn, S., & Williams, W. M. (2015). Women in science: the path to progress. Scientific American Mind, 26.
  • Ceci, S.J., & Williams, W.M. (2015). Women scientists’ academic-hiring advantage is unwelcome news for some, Part 1. Huffington Post Science , Published May 1, 2015: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-m-williams/women-scientists-academic_1_b_7181676.html
  • Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W.M. (2015). Women have substantial advantage in STEM faculty hiring, except when competing against more accomplished men. Frontiers in Psychology, 20, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01532
  • Williams, W. M. & Ceci, S. J. (2015; June 12). Op Ed: Room for Debate: Sexist image of scientists is wrong. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/06/11/nobel-winning-sexism-in-the-lab/sexist-image-of-male-scientists-is-wrong
  • Ceci, S. J., Williams & W.M. (2015, September 10). Op Ed: Passions supplant reason in dialog on women in science. Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/Passions-Supplant-Reason-in/232989?cid=megamenu

*I have authored/coauthored nine books, edited/co-edited six volumes, and written over 150 articles, chapters, essays and editorials, all listed on my current vita.