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Therese Huston

Cognitive scientist, gender strategist, and dynamic speaker

  • About Therese Huston

    Therese Huston is a cognitive psychologist, gender strategist, and the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Seattle University. A powerful speaker, she has led workshops at Microsoft, Amazon, the U.S. State Department, the Cleveland Clinic, and Harvard Business School on how to create more inclusive workplaces for women. Huston also speaks deftly about the intersection of gender and business, women in tech, improving management and leadership skills, and teaching and education. Her polished combination of smart science and practical application makes Huston a favorite among academic audiences, businesses, and conferences.

    In Huston’s writing, she coaches leaders and managers—and especially women in these roles—on how to build confidence, make better decisions, take risks, and give more constructive feedback. In her upcoming book, Let’s Talk: Make Effective Feedback Your Superpower (January 2021), Huston puts forth a paradigm-shifting model for managers, leaders, and professionals of all kinds, giving them the tools to provide great feedback that employees and team members will hear and take to heart. Her valuable advice gives leaders of all kinds a framework for coaching and giving impactful feedback, resulting in more creative, innovative, and engaged team members.

    Huston is a prolific writer, with op-eds and articles in major publications like The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, TIME, and the Los Angeles Times. She is also the author of two other books, Teaching What You Don’t Know and How Women Decide. Huston has been interviewed on NPR and on television morning news programs, and her research has been featured in a variety of media, including ForbesThe Financial Times, and Health Day. Huston received her MS and PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Speaking Topics

    Let’s Talk: Giving Game-Changing Feedback

    Recent studies reveal that many managers and employees dread giving feedback and hold back valuable insights as a result. In this engaging talk fit for managers and employees of all kinds, Dr. Therese Huston, the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Seattle University, provides the science behind unlocking listening and packaging your feedback so it’s easier to give and hear. She shows leaders how the once-difficult process of giving feedback can become more natural, improving performance, trust, and motivation.

    Mastering the Art and Science of Remote Feedback

    Working remotely has become the new way of life for many employees, and this has created a vexing challenge for managers everywhere: how can you give constructive feedback to someone without crushing their spirit? All too often, overworked managers dread the thought of giving remote feedback and decide to hint at the problem or say nothing, hoping it will just fix itself. Delivered skillfully, feedback over a video or phone call can actually boost motivation, foster trust, and turn your average performers into your hardest workers. Join Therese Huston, author of Let’s Talk: Make Effective Feedback Your Superpower, as she shares concrete, evidence-based strategies for eliminating the guesswork of remote feedback. In this empowering talk, Huston familiarizes audiences with an impactful mantra: there may be a let-down, but there doesn’t have to be a breakdown. Most importantly, Huston helps managers of all kinds transform the fear of cringe-worthy moments into catalyzing conversations.

    Breaking Bias in Discussions of Performance

    If you’re working to improve the diversity in your leadership teams, here’s a question you need to ask: Do managers give men and women the same kinds of feedback? When managers give feedback to white employees and employees of color, do they convey the same messages? It might feel that way, but new evidence suggests they don’t. In this interactive workshop, Dr. Huston uses research and stories to reveal how feedback is often best for white men. It’s inadvertent, it’s far too common, and it’s solvable. She’ll work with your group to identify concrete strategies for providing useful feedback across the board so everyone has a chance to excel.

    How Women Decide: What We Should Know about Gender and Decision-Making

    Therese Huston has spent many years researching how women and men make decisions. In a society where we expect men in power to make the most crucial decisions, Huston argues that women's decision-making skills are just as valuable and, in fact, necessary to maintaining group intelligence. In a talk that blends statistical data with cohesive analysis, Huston interrogates the challenge of good decision-making, how men and women approach it differently, and why it matters—in the workplace and beyond.

    The Joys and Challenges of Teaching Outside Your Comfort Zone

    Educators are often called upon to teach in areas with which they are unfamiliar. How can one prepare for this and look credible in the process? An experienced teaching consultant, Therese Huston uses this talk to offer creative strategies to educators teaching outside their comfort zone. With the assurance that authority in the classroom doesn’t always come from perfect knowledge of a subject, Huston encourages educators to meet students where they are, maintain discussions when they seem to fall flat, and above all, embrace the adventure of teaching what you don't know.

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  • Praise for Therese Huston


    Therese partnered thoughtfully with our leadership team to create a workshop that was tailored to our unique needs. This enabled us to ensure the content was grounded in data, relevant and engaging for the attendees.

    Leslie Chen, Microsoft

    Dr. Huston doesn’t just present eye-opening research and stories; she gives audiences actionable advice that can transform our careers and even the workplace. Her work is so vital during this moment of change.

    Carolyn Gan, Watermark Conference for Women

    Therese is a master at telling stories that engage participants and at facilitating activities that challenge them to think in new ways.

    Kevin Barry, University of Notre Dame

    Therese brings a certain sage-like quality to her sessions.  She is honest and realistic, yet empowering and positive.

    Sumita Khatri, Cleveland Clinic

    Praise for How Women Decide

    One could imagine [How Women Decide] becoming required reading on Wall Street.

    New York Times Book Review

    I thought I had read everything I needed to read on gender differences, but, as a CEO, this book showed me a new and critically important area in which we need to be very aware of our biases and take the steps Huston recommends to address them.

    Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business

    Praise for Teaching What You Don’t Know

    Huston’s book is illuminating even for those teaching within their expertise.

    Natascha Chtena, Inside Higher Ed

    As [Huston] demonstrates, teaching outside your area of competence is almost the norm in the U.S. academy… The hints and tips provided here will be valuable perhaps everywhere that there is a higher education system… Teaching What You Don’t Know will find a good audience as a rescue manual for the young, as it assuages the anxieties facing the postgraduate or the postdoctoral teacher. The book, which clearly draws on a wide range of teaching experience on the U.S. scene, offers good advice and outlines some useful strategies. Huston does, moreover, dig up issues that have become ever more pressing over the past few years.

    Leslie Gofton, Times Higher Education

    Have you ever been asked to deliver a lecture at short notice on a topic that is outside your comfort zone?… If so, read this book. In fact, ever found yourself wondering how you could improve your teaching, even of topics well within your expertise? Again, if so, read this book.

    Celia Popovic, Innovations in Education and Teaching International

    When top-down support and open communication become the norm, teaching outside one’s expertise can cease to be the nightmarish experience many feel it to be and become the illuminating and rewarding experience that Huston describes. While this is undoubtedly important, Huston’s consistently optimistic treatment of this subject and her clear suggestions for struggling teachers remain the book’s greatest strengths. Teaching What You Don’t Know is a pleasure to read and should be required reading in graduate pedagogy classes across disciplines.

    Adam Pacton, Pedagogy

    Moving behind the reassuring public image of professorial expertise, Huston exposes a growing but still largely hidden academic reality: university teachers—sometimes even full professors—teaching outside of their field. Interviews with dozens of university faculty convincingly establish the prevalence of the practice and clarify the institutional reasons that it will likely increase in the years ahead. But many readers will quickly move past the analysis of why university faculty must teach outside their specialty to consider the helpful advice on how to do such teaching well… It may surprise librarians how many teachers and administrators seek out this book.

    Bryce Christensen, Booklist

    Sometimes teachers might find themselves filling in, and Teaching What You Don’t Know is a handy book to help them deal with unexpected situations.

    Bookseller and Publisher

    This is one of the best books I’ve read on university teaching and learning in a long time. It addresses an issue that’s seldom discussed, in a book that’s both carefully researched and wonderfully sparkling in style. The author makes a strong case that teaching outside your area of expertise is a serious and extensive problem, and she offers some highly practical advice about how to meet the challenges. I would make this book a standard text for both our new faculty program and teaching fellows program, and I suspect that many other programs will want to do the same.

    Ken Bain, author of What the Best College Teachers Do
  • Books by Therese Huston

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  • 212 572-2013
  • Therese Huston travels from Seattle, Washington

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