She pioneered giraffe research but few know her name  – The Fifth Estate
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She pioneered giraffe research but few know her name – The Fifth Estate

In 1972, Doctor Dagg was
unfairly denied tenure. And they said, “Well
no, you’re a woman, and we don’t hire women.” It was devastating really. She was the first person to
study giraffes or indeed any animal in the wild in Africa. Anne did not go
down without a fight. I mean, she took it to the
Human Rights commission. It has taken 86
years to get here. The degree of
Doctor of Science… [♪♪] [♪♪] Welcome to Convocation at
the University of Waterloo. [female voice] It has taken 86
years to get here. Why now? Why not last year, or
even ten years ago? I present Anne Innis Dagg. In 1972, Dr Dagg was unfairly
denied tenure after completing a very successful
assistant-professorship. Her incredible contributions to
science and to tackling issues of gender equity in
academia are founded in courage, tenacity and talent. [Anne] Here at University of
Waterloo, the Dean stated he would not hire married women
for full-time position. So I didn’t even apply. [male voice] Anne Innis Dagg, I
am honoured to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of
Science, Honoris Causa, and I extend my
sincere congratulations. [Anne] It was just assumed that
whatever I had done couldn’t be any good because I was a woman. It’s weird really,
but that’s true. [Diana] Anne Innis
Dagg is probably the most important research scientist you’ve never heard of. Describe for me what this
morning was like for you? It was magnificent. I was thinking negative thoughts
because so many universities had not wanted me to teach or
anything and they were saying welcome back. Because, I did my
university work there, and I hadn’t been
accepted as a person after that. [♪♪] [Diana] 50 years
ago, she was shut out of the scientific boys’ club. And some of this country’s best
known universities went along with it. Why weren’t you accepted? They just said they
were a new department, biology, they didn’t
want any women in it. I didn’t really want anything
else in life except to be a university teacher, and when
it came to becoming a real professor there
was no place for me. She was crushed when the job was
given to a man who she felt had less
qualifications than she did. [Diana] Anne’s
experience caught the attention of
filmmaker Alison Reid. Last year she
released a film about Anne, and people began to learn about
a decades-old wrong done to her. It’s definitely a deep wound. I don’t think getting the
honorary doctorate takes away it a hundred percent. [Diana] The film
shows that before Jane Goodall began her study of chimpanzees, there was Anne. [♪♪] Called The Woman
Who Loves Giraffes, the film uses footage Anne
herself shot all those years ago. A 23-year-old from Toronto on
her own in Africa in the 1950’s. [Anne] But my mother said, you
must go, you’ve always wanted to, and if you don’t do
it now, you’ll never do it. [Diana] Drawn there
by a life long love of giraffes, she would become the
first person in the world to scientifically study a
large mammal in the wild. She admits now she wasn’t really
sure how to research giraffes. She just started writing
down everything they did. [Anne] I went out and was
sitting in the car and there were maybe eight giraffe, and
you could look at them all and they were eating different
leaves and it was what I’d always dreamed of and here I was
doing it and writing notes. [Diana] In time,
that research led to a
book that came to be considered ground-breaking. And she got to work teaching
at three Canadian universities. But to continue her research,
she’d need to be made a full professor. She felt sure she’d earned it. [Anne] I’d actually written more
books and done more articles than most people because I
worked really hard. I mean, I’d written more papers
than the head of the department that refused me. How was it explained to you? Well, they just said, “Well,
no, you’re– you’re a woman, and we don’t hire women, and
they have babies and where will they go, and look
after your babies.” So, it was devastating, really. There were six of us. All of us had
just earned our PhD, we all wanted to
work at the university, and they just said,
“We don’t want you.” And I remember going along, a
woman I didn’t really know, but I went along to her room on,
in one of the student residences and I opened the door, and
she just started to cry and we hugged each other. We didn’t even know each
other but we knew that sort of everything we wanted in our
whole life was just being destroyed. When Anne received the news that
she wasn’t going to get tenure, that meant that she had to leave
that job at the university. So she would not have university
support to be able to continue her giraffe research, continue
to publish papers on giraffes. It would mean that if
you published anything, no one really cared, maybe they wouldn’t
even know that you published anything. ♪ ♪ Anne did not go
down without a fight. I mean, she took it the Human
Rights Commission of Ontario and also the Ontario Ombudsman. And lost, in both cases. And there were appeals, I mean,
the fight went on for seven years, didn’t it? And she lost. How difficult was it for you to
be on the sidelines of your own career? Oh, it was very difficult. I just hated it. But I decided I’d
just work on my own, and so I wrote a number of books
and articles and now I feel very proud about that. I was able to do fighting things
that made a difference to me. It strikes me that while your
career didn’t take the path that you intended,
because it was denied you, in the end, you’ve actually
helped explore and nurture women’s rights? I hope so. I’ve fought it for them, because
of my own negative experiences. Even when I was teaching
part-time at the university, we’d gathered together and do
all sorts of feminist things. I remember flying across Canada
at one point and giving lectures at various
universities and you know, explaining, we
should help women. Did you ever get
pushback for that? People saying, look, this is
you just personalizing your experience. You can’t get over it. Oh yeah, they hated me. [Diana] They hated you? Well, you know, I was just
bringing dissention into the university. [Applause] [Diana] When we come back, Anne learns
people haven’t just been reading her books. She was a bigger star in the
scientific community than she ever realized. What did it mean to
you to be discovered? Oh, I was in seventh
heaven, I couldn’t believe it. It was just fantastic. Sort of the
happiest time of my life, really. [♪♪] [♪♪] [Diana] Anne Innis Dagg has spent her
life studying and fighting for giraffes. So among all of the
giraffe-themed items you have, and you’ve got a few,
these paintings are really, I guess meaningful to you on
a much more personal level. They both were
done by Bob Bateman, who, whom I knew in Toronto
when I was in high school. So he was my first
person I went on a date with. How close is it to what a
giraffe looks like in person? Did he capture it? Well, it’s pretty good. [Diana] She was
the first person in the
world to study giraffes in the wild, publishing
research as early as the 1960s. But Anne was denied a university
professorship because she was a woman. She believed she’d mostly
slid into obscurity after that. In fact, Anne had become
something of an academic rockstar in the
field she pioneered. She just hadn’t known it. Anne wrote the textbook. Especially when I
was doing my masters, she was essential reading. I think, what you
didn’t realize, is that book you had written,
was considered the bible. So, everyone in the giraffe
community clearly had that on their bookshelves, from
zookeepers to giraffe researchers and scientists. They all knew you. But they didn’t
know you personally, they just knew you from your
name on the spine on the book. Working in this field, there was
nothing else really coming out for a really long time. I had worked in the field for
over ten years and most of what we relied on still was
Anne’s book from so long ago. Amy Phelps is the
woman who was responsible, I say, for rediscovering Anne. I mean, she said that she
studied Anne’s book as a child, and that Anne was her hero. [Amy] Her contribution so many
years later was still so great. But in this field where we
needed that expertise and we used it every day,
we didn’t know her. And so it was really important
to me that we’d be able to find her. Dr Dagg, we are pleased to
welcome you again into the alumni at the
University of Waterloo. [Diana] The film has
brought attention to Anne and the animals she loves. One university has now
awarded her a doctorate, another has given
her an apology. And she’s been embraced by the
scientific community she once longed to be a part of. [♪♪] What did it mean to
you to be discovered? Oh, I was in seventh
heaven, I couldn’t believe it. It was just fantastic. Sort of the
happiest time of my life, really. Now people are looking at books
I wrote maybe fifty years ago and saying, oh, this
is really interesting. It’s so annoying. Why couldn’t they
have done that earlier? You’re 86. Truthfully, this apology, this
recognition comes past a point in your life when you
can make the most of it? Oh yes, for sure. Yeah. It’s just now an ego thing. And not frustrating at all? Well, um, no, I mean,
things are better now, and people are, are
responding to me. So, life is much
better than it was. [Diana] And, she’s
been back to Africa, matching what she learned then with what’s happening there now. Isn’t that beautiful the way… it’s graceful. [Diana] She’d
rather forget about what she lost and focus on remembering what started it all. [Diana] How close are you? [Anne] Oh, quite close. But they weren’t really
paying any attention. Maybe, fifty feet. [Diana] How extraordinary
was that for you, given your love for them? Incredible. To think they were so close. They got used to me, I think. You do worry about the levels of
giraffe that exist in the wild now, I mean, they’re a fraction
of what they were during the time that you were there? Oh yes. They are so endangered. I just thought,
they’ll be there forever. I mean, they’re
just so beautiful, why would anyone kill them? [Diana] The number
of giraffes in the world has fallen nearly 40% since 1985, diminished by
poaching and urbanization. Anne, thank you so
much for your work, and your inspiration. [Diana] Much has changed for Anne as well. At 86, this woman who’s
led a quiet life for years, is suddenly the star at
every screening of her film. My question is, Anne, have you
been the recipient of the order of Canada? And if not, how
can we nominate you? [Diana] A nomination for the Order of Canada, just the latest effort to make
sure Anne finally gets her due. Do you feel kind of
rejuvenated by all of this? Yeah, oh yeah. It’s great. Because otherwise I
would be thinking, “Oh, dear, I’m going to die,
’cause I’m in my eighties.” I feel that we should
go again to Africa. That would be wonderful. [♪♪]

About Gregory Ralls

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19 thoughts on “She pioneered giraffe research but few know her name – The Fifth Estate

  1. Thank you for another week of quality journalism! I'm the editor of an independently-owned community newspaper in the Ottawa Valley and really appreciate all of the work you do!

  2. Women get scholarships for.just being female,having 1 kid, being raised by a single mom but what do men get to pay for school? NOTHING!

  3. It wasn’t the black Africans denying her studying animals in Africa was it now. It was the so called progressive American morons.

  4. What would we ever do without all the scientific breakthroughs this brave giraffe researcher brought to the world?
    We would be stuck with the 1970's Giraffaphobic mentality. Where would I then get my degree in Giraffology?
    She's more important than mutha flocking Einstein and Martin Luther King, Jr. combined!
    This woman not only deserves a gravy-train tenure, she should be given a Nobel Prize!
    Stop the Injustice!

  5. The inferior always suppress the superior . In all things this is true . When ever you hear anyone stating that they are better than the rest [ or other factions/genders] , they delude themselves .

    If this post spams , it is the responsibility of You tube.

  6. The inferior always suppress the superior . In all things this is true . When ever you hear anyone stating that they are better than the rest [ or other factions/genders] , they delude themselves .

    If this post spams , it is the responsibility of You tube.

  7. I am fifteen years younger than Anne.
    I remember applying for a job, after graduating from college, and being told since I was single and unwed I could not have the position because when I got married I would quit.
    I had no intention of quitting work should I marry.
    Thank God the times have changed, a little.

  8. Very good. I always thought Jane Goodall came first, I appreciate being correted. A lovely, intelligent woman, very glad to see that she was finally recognized for her work. Thank you.

  9. LIVE: Assange’s father takes part in public hearing on son’s case and freedom of the press

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