Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878–1972) has been called “the first lady of engineering” and “the world’s greatest woman engineer” due to her impact on industrial design and pioneering work in the field of time and motion studies.
- The family put their techniques to work with their 12 children (two of them wrote the books Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes, later turned into movies).
- After her husband’s death, Gilbreth applied their principles to the home and kitchen—for instance, designing an ideal kitchen layout and techniques to help disabled individuals.
Lillian Gilbreth combined the perspectives of an engineer, a psychologist, a wife, and a mother; she helped industrial engineers see the importance of the psychological dimensions of work. She became the first American engineer ever to create a synthesis of psychology and scientific management. By applying the principles of scientific management to household tasks, Gilbreth “sought to provide women with shorter, simpler, and easier ways of doing housework to enable them to seek paid employment outside the home.”