(Yost, 1949) They had twelve children. Frank and Lillian moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1910 where Lillian entered Brown University to continue pursuing her doctorate, but with a change in emphasis from literature to psychology. Her emphasis focused on the scientific and psychological aspects of management in industry. Ultimately, she became interested in the relationship between management and psychology, the relationship that formed the basis for her Ph. D. at Brown. She received her Ph. D. from Brown University in 1915 with her thesis topic, The Psychology of Management, the very first degree given in industrial psychology.
Before receiving her Ph. D. , Frank and Lillian started the Summer School of Scientific Management where they trained business professionals, tuition free, about management, motion studies and psychology. Lillian and Frank ran the summer school for four years, from 1913 until 1917. By then, Dr. Lillian Gilbreths Ph. D. dissertation had been published as a book, The Psychology of Management, published in 1914, a year before she received her doctorate degree. She was the first psychologist to emphasize and document the importance of psychology in management.
(Sullivan, 1995) When Frank died suddenly of a heart attack in 1924, Lillian moved back to California where she continued the work they had begun. There, she maintained a consulting business and continued teaching and pursuing research on health and efficiency in business. She lectured top institutions of learning throughout the US and became a highly respected businesswoman and consultant to many large firms. In 1935 she became a professor of management on the faculty at Purdue University, the first woman professor in the School of Engineering.
Although her ideas and degree are in psychology, her concepts and ideas have been found to be of particular value in engineering, a discipline in which she taught and received awards throughout her life. She became the first member (received the first membership) in the Society of Women Engineers, The First Lady of Engineering. (SWE Newsletter, 1978) During her career Dr. Gilbreth received an honorary degree from her alma mater, Brown, as well as from Princeton, U. of Michigan and about a score of other schools around the country, wrote four books and taught industrial engineering around the U. S. and in Formosa from 1953 to 1954.
Theoretical Perspective: Lillian and Frank brought a psychological approach to the study of business management and stressed that human relations were a crucial aspect of management theory and practice. They were devoted to seeking the one best way to perform any task in order to increase efficiency and productivity in industry. Lillian and her husband Frank Gilbreth focused on the motion studies involved in time management and Frederick Winslow Taylor contributed to the time studies in time-motion studies that increase business efficiency by reducing wasted time and motions to increase productivity in the workplace.
Lillians expertise grew from her measurement precision when collecting data. Her work provided a much improved understanding as to the impact of the workers welfare on the day to day operations in business. Dr. Gilbreth is credited with inventing refrigerator door shelves, for creating techniques to help disabled women perform household chores and other inventions.