Plenary Speaker Profile (2012-13)
Nora S. Newcombe
Professor of Psychology and James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow
Temple University
Spatial Skills and Success in STEM: Thinking about Gender Differences

Spatial ability is one factor in STEM success. But do sex differences in spatial ability contribute to sex differences in STEM participation? This talk will present an overview of research showing that

  • There are sex differences on some but not all kinds of spatial ability.
  • All kinds of spatial ability can be very much improved with appropriate education and training.
  • Biological and evolutionary accounts of sex differences are currently inadequate, and often internally contradictory.

Nora S. Newcombe is Professor of Psychology and James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Temple University. Her Ph.D. is from Harvard University. Her research focuses on spatial cognition and development, as well as the development of autobiographical and episodic memory. Dr. Newcombe is the author of numerous chapters, articles, and books, including Making Space with Janellen Huttenlocher (published by the MIT Press, 2000). Her work has been recognized by several awards, including the George A. Miller Award and the G. Stanley Hall Award. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of Experimental Psychologists. She has served as Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and Associate Editor of Psychological Bulletin, as well as on many grant panels and advisory boards. She is currently Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center.