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286 LEICHTER, Käthe (1895–1942) First social scientist to specialize in women ’s and gender studies in Austria. Journalist , editor and leftwing ideologist of the Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei (SDAP, Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Austria ). Käthe Leichter was born Marianne Katharina Pick on 20 August 1895 in Vienna, into a bourgeois–liberal, intellectual and assimilated Jewish family familiar with enlightenment ideals of liberty, equality and social justice. Her parents were the attorney Dr. Josef Pick (1849– 1926), who came from a northern Bohemian textile factory family, and Charlotte Rubinstein (1872–1939), the multilingual daughter of a Bucharest banking family. They were married in 1893 and had two daughters. Käthe was the second girl and not the longed for son, as she says in her autobiographical scripts. She attended the Viennese Beamtentöchter-Lyceum from 1906 until 1912 and after receiving her diploma, enrolled in Staatswissenschaften (a combination of political science, law, economy and sociology) at the University of Vienna, aiming to be one of the first female graduates in that field. In 1917, she relocated to the University of Heidelberg (since women in the Habsburg Monarchy could not yet graduate in law). The following year, she graduated magna cum laude under the direction of Max Weber. Prior to the outbreak of World War I in Vienna, Käthe Pick had been involved in the radical anti-authoritarian and left-wing Wiener Jugendbewegung (Viennese Youth Movement). This movement was influenced by socialist ideals and psychoanalysis— corresponding in its ideals and structure with the later left-wing student movements of 1968. Käthe Pick was competitive, self-confident and led by a strong aptitude for work. Nevertheless, she suffered from personal problems with her looks (which did not meet conventional feminine ideals), as well as from her subordinated position as a woman in political, social and sexual life. A socialist, she later became a member of the Parteischüler-Bildungsverein ‘Karl Marx’ (‘Karl Marx’ Society for Party Scholars and Education), a forum for war opponents within the SDAP (Social Democratic Workers’ Party). In Heidelberg, she joined the student-driven Social Revolutionary movement. After the foundation of the Republic of Austria in 1918, she became a 287 member of the SDAP’s Neuen Linken (New Left) as a representative of the Rätemodell (System of Workers’ Councils). As a fresh university graduate and one of the first female political scientists to have specialized in economics, she became a member of the Reichswirtschaftskommission der Arbeiterräte (State Economic Committee of the Workers’ Councils) and the Sozialisierungskommission (State Committee on the Socialization of Industry), as well as working as a consultant for the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Zentralverband für Gemeinwirtschaft (the umbrella organization for Public Goods and Corporations). On 10 December 1921, she married the socialist and journalist Otto Leichter (Vienna 1897–New York 1973). They had two sons, Heinz (b. 1924) and Franz (b. 1930). From 1925, Käthe Leichter worked in the Frauenreferat der Wiener Arbeiterkammer (Women’s Department of the Viennese Institutionalized Workers’ Chamber), which she led until February 1934 (when the SDAP was banned). Up to then, she had been better known as an economist rather than someone interested in women’s rights. Käthe Leichter belonged to a generation of women who were already enjoying the successes of the older women’s movement—access for women to higher education, voting rights etc—and who distanced themselves from the so-called ‘bourgeois women’s movement.’ Leichter considered herself a Marxist and, with respect to the Frauenfrage (‘the woman question’), took the theoretical Marxist position that the oppression of women, along with all ‘super-structure’ phenomena, was derived from the primacy of the economy. The ‘female worker,’ not ‘woman,’ was the focus of both her political career and her major scientific research projects, of which there were four: Frauenarbeit und Arbeiterrinnenschutz in Österreich (The work of women and the protection of female workers in Austria, 1927); Wie leben die Wiener Heimarbeiter ? Eine Erhebung über die Arbeits—und Lebensbedingungen von 1000 Wiener Heimarbeitern (How do Viennese homeworkers live? An investigation into the working and living conditions of 1000 Viennese homeworkers, 1928); Handbuch für Frauenarbeit in Österreich (Handbook for female workers in Austria, 1930) and So leben wir. 1320 Industriearbeiterinnen berichten über ihr Leben (This is how we live. 1320 female industrial workers talk about their lives, 1933). To this day, her studies are used in social science courses on living and working conditions in 1920s Austria, as...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9786155053726
Related ISBN
9789637326394
MARC Record
OCLC
868217084
Pages
698
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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