Lillian Moller Gilbreth: An Industrial Engineering Pioneer

  • Jill S. Tietjen
Part of the Women in Engineering and Science book series (WES)


The “Mother of Industrial Engineering,” industrial psychologist and engineer Lillian Moller Gilbreth combined the social sciences with the mathematical and physical sciences in the formative days of industrial engineering. The mother of 12 children, Gilbreth collaborated with her husband, Frank Gilbreth, who wanted to find the “One Best Way” for doing any task. As an editor, researcher, lecturer, and consultant, she advocated for Motion Study and the Gilbreth System during his life, and for almost 50 years after his death. Facing blatant sexism after Frank’s death, Lillian remade herself into an expert of industrial psychology and on women’s work. She became an efficiency expert in the home as well as in the kitchen and many aspects of today’s modern kitchen—from its layout, to the height of the counters, to the components of the refrigerator and washing machine—were developed by Lillian Gilbreth. An advisor to many Presidents, Lillian achieved many firsts and received numerous honors and awards. The first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the first honorary member of the Society of Women Engineers, she has been featured on a US postage stamp in the Great American Series and inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jill S. Tietjen
    • 1
  1. 1.Technically Speaking, Inc.Greenwood VillageUSA

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