As a pioneer of both scientific management and industrial psychology, Lillian Gilbreth was ideally equipped to extend scientific management into the service sector in the 1920s. When her husband and partner Frank Gilbreth died in 1924 and she encountered sex discrimination among industrialists and engineers, she volunteered her consulting services at Macy’s department store, a work site rife with gender‐based conflict, coordination problems and inefficiency. This paper describes her work with Eugenia Lies, Macy’s director of planning, to revamp both the motions and psychological atmosphere of occupations within the store between 1925 and 1928. By uniting an industrial relations approach with personnel management techniques, Gilbreth and Lies made the Gilbreth brand of scientific management useful for the field of retail management.
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