Lillian Gilbreth: Redefining Domesticity by Julie Des Jardins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an intimate and engaging insight into one of the most prominent 20th century female engineers. It covers everything that a young woman would want to know about a role model: how she dealt with conflicting desires for the future, how she managed the work-life balance, how she created a place of her own in the field, what ideals she worked towards, how she managed under the societal expectations of her time, and what lasting influence she imparted.
The author did a great job of making her early life relatable to modern, young women. She showed how insecure Lillian was of her future, as well as both her desire to follow and grow beyond the conventional ideals of femininity. Her meeting and subsequent life with Frank Gilbreth demonstrates just how important a supportive husband is for women like her. He gave her opportunities and encouragement to pursue a career outside the home. Also, the ways that the couple ran their household is incredible, although excessively concerned with efficiency at times. However, the book also honestly admit some downsides to the Gilbreth household: the hectic pace around over-packed schedules, the children feeling some lost of individuality, and often-absent parents. Still, I do find it admirable that Lillian does address these issues and bring in the human aspect into household management. In addition, it's admirable that Frank respects his wife's contributions.
Together, their ideas about efficiency impacted so many different fields. The author emphasizes how their work helped make productivity improvements in industry a lot more humane. Lillian, especially, contributed many ideas that have lead managers to focus more on raising worker satisfaction and decrease their fatigue. This book really makes you appreciate how much her unique perspectives altered her field, and how necessary it is to have minds like hers in the public realm.
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