22 Influential Women You Probably Didn't Learn About in School

Victoria Woodhull, Althea Gibson, Hypatia
Victoria Woodhull, Althea Gibson, Hypatia / Victoria Woodhull, Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images // Althea Gibson, AFP/AFP via Getty Images // Hypatia, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
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8. Lillian Moller Gilbreth

Lillian Moller Gilbreth dedicated herself to making life easier for the rest of us. With a Ph.D. in psychology, she went to work with her husband Frank as a consultant in the field of worker efficiency, studying everything from the best motions to use to improve productivity to how an employee suggestion box could help get workers more involved in their jobs. Often, the couple tested their methods on their 12 children, carefully studying the best way to give them baths and picking the right chores for each age group. If there was a way to make menial tasks more efficient, Gilbreth would find it.

After her husband died, Gilbreth continued her work while caring for the couple’s children. In addition to writing books on raising families and managing a home, she also helped engineer an improved layout to kitchens—which included everything from shelf height to a flow that minimized wasted motion—that’s still followed today. In 1948, two of Gilbreth’s children turned their unconventional home life into the hit semi-autobiographical novel (and later, a series of movies), Cheaper by the Dozen.