5 Great Women in Construction History

October 10, 2017

1) Lilian Gilbreth



Known as the woman of modern management and as ‘a genius in the art of living”, Lillian Gilbreth was one of the first working women engineers holding a Ph.D. She combined the perspectives of an engineer, a psychologist, a wife, and a mother of 12; she also became the first female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1926.


She was the co-author of multiple books with her husband, however, the publishers were concerned about her credibility as a female author (even though she had a doctorate while her husband never attended college) so she wasn’t named on the books.


Lillian Gilbreth was instrumental in the development of the modern kitchen and is credited for the invention of shelving in refrigerator doors and the foot-pedal garbage can. Lillian was also one of the first to consider stress and fatigue associated with workloads and time management.


She and her husband performed the time and motion study which is currently applicable to the improvement and upgrading of work systems. The Gilbreths are also recognized for their contribution to job simplification, job standardization and the innovations in workplace efficiency like improved lighting and regular breaks, etc.


In 1966, she won the Hoover Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She became the first female professor in the engineering school at Purdue University and the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering.



2) Frances Perkins 

Frances Perkins was FDR’s Secretary of Labor and the first woman to serve as cabinet secretary. This self-made woman was able to pave the way for many benefits offered to construction workers and she also defended the minimum wage and helped develop the Fair Labor Standards Act.


Frances also helped on developing the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and later the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and the labor portion of the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.


She also pushed to reduce workplace accidents and through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for the American workers and defined the standard forty-hour work week.


3) Kris Young​'