“Progress shadowed by human waste”: the Women’s Bureau films scientific management

Amy Sue Bix (Department of History, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)

Journal of Management History (Archive)

ISSN: 1355-252X

Publication date: 1 December 2000


Within the context of America’s Depression, the Women’s Bureau of the US Department of Labor produced a unique film, Behind the Scenes in the Machine Age. The movie emphasized the seriousness of economic crisis, but promised that by eliminating “waste”, America could return to solid ground. The concept of “waste” allowed the Bureau to link scientific management to a broader message preaching workplace safety, endorsing government expertise and economic planning, and underlining women’s role in modern industrial production. The organization tailored its philosophy of scientific management to a popular audience, while highlighting woman‐centered aspects of economic life.



Sue Bix, A. (2000), "“Progress shadowed by human waste”: the Women’s Bureau films scientific management", Journal of Management History (Archive), Vol. 6 No. 8, pp. 361-375. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552520010359414

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Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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