Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Mieography

Meet Lillian Moller Gilbreth. SHe is the first working female engineer holding a PhD.

Born in Oakland, California, she had the usual childhood, and was admitted to, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with both her BA and her MA. Her Ph.D came from Brown University, and was the first degree granted in Industrial Psychology. During her lifespan, she ended up also getting 22 honorary degrees from many schools, such as Princeton, Brown, and U. of Michigan, just to name a few.
She married Frank Gilbreth, and proceeded to have 12 children with him. As a matter of fact, the books (and subsequent movie) Cheaper By the Dozen (and also Belles on Their Toes) are the story of their family life.
So if that wasn't enough, Lillian continued her work as an engineer. She was the first American Engineer to combine a synthesis of psychology, and scientific management. (With that many kids she'd have to, right?). She also, in her "spare" time, helped to design a desk for display at the Chicago World's Fair. Yes, she developed the first ergonomic desk....
Her work focused on inefficiency, and waste, and she studied this in both time and motion, and also the waste of potential human satisfaction and fulfillment that could be derived from work. (Work is supposed to fulfill us). She believed that poorly planned jobs made work tiresome, and destroyed the enjoyment of the task. (boy is she right on that one). She fostered the theory that each employee deserved basic human dignity, and that managers and owners needed to structure their authority in the workplace.
     She did marketing reasearch for Johnson and Johnson, and assisted both them, and Macy's with their management departments. She also wrote numerous books and essays, and did a doctoral dissertation, and a Fatigue Study. She and Frank wrote books together while their children were asleep. She even wrote a Motion Study for the Handicapped. She and her husband formed a management consulting firm, Gilbreth, Inc. which performed the time and motion studies, with their children working with them, as a team. She died in 1972 in Phoenix, Arizona. She is called the First Lady of Engineering, and was the first woman elected into the National Academy of Engineering. She also held Professorships at Purdue and Wisconsin-Madison Universities, and the Newark Collage of Engineering. In 1984 she was made into a Postage Stamp.


Bubblewench said...

I never heard of her and am really glad I did!

What an amazing woman.


sybil law said...

12 kids and all those accomplishments! She deserves some kinda lifetime award - although maybe that's the postage stamp...

Anonymous said...

12 children. My goodness.

As an engineer, I must say this was an awesome choice this week.

Mimi said...

I LOVE her, mostly because I've read and reread "Cheaper by the Dozen"