Lillian Gilbreth

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Lillian Gilbreth

BackgroundLillian Moller was born May 24th, 1878 in Oakland, California. Lillian’s first huge success as a woman was going to college. Her father believed women only needed enough education to be good homemakers, but she dreamed of college and convinced him to let her go. There she studied Literature and graduated in 1900. She was the first woman to speak at a University of California Graduation. She then earned her Master’s in Literature in 1902 from Berkeley. She went on a vacation after this, and met her husband to be in Boston.

Lillian Evelyn Moller GilbrethMay 24th, 1878 to January 2nd, 1972

Scientist & Mother

Their WorkLillian and Frank spent their life pursuing efficiency in the work place. Later, after Frank’s death, Lillian broadened her work to include home environments as well. While it was Frank’s personal ambition that began their work in efficiency, Lillian took this motivation and made it her own by emphasizing the human element of the equation. Her work analyzed the effects of fatigue, worker’s incentives, stress, and time management in the work place. She later transferred her emphasis to the home, working with kitchen companies such as GE to improve their appliances. Part of her work was designing devices to enable disabled women to manage household tasks independently. Much of this work was done through their company, Gilbreth, Inc. which served as efficiency consultants for work places.

Lillian grew up in a time when women were still expected to stay at home and raise families. Her father had not wanted to send her to college because he thought it was unnecessary for a woman, but Lillian wouldn't hear it. She convinced him to send her to college. She completed college while living at home and attending to her family duties at the same time as bettering herself through education. She was one of nine and when her turn to raise a family with her husband Frank did come around she took after her mother and raised a large family of 12! She was fortunate enough to find a man who considered her a valuable partner in work as well as life, and interestingly enough she was the only one of the couple to have a college degree! The two inspired each other to work harder and pursue what began as his dream for motion efficiency and turn it into their joint life’s work. Even more impressively she also achieved countless firsts for women in science while raising a family, making her a remarkable superwoman. She was the first woman to speak at Berkeley's graduation and later became the first woman on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Her humanization of the workplace with her personal emphasis on fatigue, in combination with her husband's work of efficient motions, was revolutionary. They opened up the field of industrial engineering and brought together scientists, economists, management, and psychologists to increase efficiency in the workplace and the home.

Lillian was acclaimed "a genius in the art of living" by California Monthly in 1944; this description adeptly captures the essence of a remarkable woman.

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FamilyOne of Lillian's accomplishments was raising a family of 12. Her father had not wanted to send her to college because a woman's place was in the home. Lillian took this to heart, but did not stop there. She earned her Doctorate while taking care of the first 4 of 12 children that she and Frank would have. They were married in 1903, and moved to Rhode Island in 1910 to what would be their family home for 14 years. There they raised their family of 12, built a management consultant company together, and started the field of scientific management. When her husband died in 1924 she moved her family back to California where she continued to raise her children and put them through college. The joys and challenges of growing up with 11 siblings and two famous parents with a passion for efficiency was recorded lovingly in two books written by two of Lillian and Frank's children about their family life. These titles are "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Belles on their Toes". Lillian was one of the first "Supermoms".

AccomplishmentsMother of 12Earned her B.A. and Masters in Literature from BerkeleyFirst women to speak at a Berkeley Graduation- 1900Earned a Doctorate in Psychology from Brown University- 1915First female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers- 1926First female professor of Engineer at Perdue- 1935Advisor to Hoover, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson"Mother of Modern Management""First Lady of Engineering"Honored with a Postage Stamp in 1984

Inventions-egg and butter trays in refrigerators-an improved electric can opener-step-on trash can lid opener-the waste water hose in washing machines"triangle" kitchen design



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