Ceiling breaker: Pearl Sullivan

Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Professor of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering

As the first female dean of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering, Pearl Sullivan has enjoyed professional success beyond what she ever imagined.

“I’ve always felt it to be a great honour and responsibility to be the dean of Waterloo Engineering. There’s no question that I am welcomed with open arms everywhere I go, because Waterloo Engineering is so highly regarded around the world.”

The journey was not always simple.

 “In academic life, you keep expanding your scope. The expectations keep rising and sometimes you over-commit … It was particularly difficult when my children were younger.”

PEARL SULLIVAN, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Professor of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering

Passionate about global affairs since she was a teenager, Sullivan, advises young women to pursue interests peripheral to their engineering careers. “My long-time interest in global issues has turned into a critical advantage.”

Sullivan adds: “I actually don’t spend too much time thinking about my own gender or the gender of people I interact with. What I do quite consciously is to try to emulate the best characteristics of people I admire and there are many of them. It would be fair, however, to say I receive more scrutiny than male colleagues in my work, my decisions, my accomplishments and failures. It’s just the reality.”


Photo credit: One for the Wall


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