Lillian Gilbreth – Scientific Pioneer

lilith gilbreth

Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972)

Jersey gem: From Montclair

Lillian Gilbreth was a pioneer in engineering and scientific management. She and her husband were the parents of twelve children and the subjects of the well-known book, Cheaper by the Dozen, which discusses the application of scientific management principles to the home. Gilbreth also published her own study, The Psychology of Management, which helped recognize that management was an area related to the field of psychology.

All of the members of the large Gilbreth family served as research subjects for their scientific parents. The couple pioneered the field of “motion study,” an innovative combination of management and technology. As business and home economists grew interested in the housewife as economic unit, Gilbreth studied the role of management methods in the home. This research led her to write two more books and publish a number of articles in popular publications of the day.

Finally, Gilbreth took a keen interest in the use of motion study to make housework easier for the disabled. She designed special routines and equipment in order to give these individuals more daily independence. By 1931, motion study had become widely accepted and the first Gilbreth Medal was awarded to Lillian Gilbreth by the Society of Industrial Engineers.

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