Waterloo woman star of new documentary, showing at The Princess

A Waterloo woman hopes to ruffle some feathers in academia with a new documentary on her life-long love of giraffes.

Anne Dagg was a pioneer when it came to wildlife research, but for 60 years her work went unnoticed

Anne Innis Dagg at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago in 2016. She saw her first giraffe there as a young child, sparking a lifelong passion for the animals. (Elaisa Vargas/Pursuing Giraffe Adventures Inc.)

A Waterloo woman hopes to ruffle some feathers in academia with a new documentary on her life-long love of giraffes. 

Anne Dagg was just 23 when she travelled to apartheid South Africa to study giraffes in their wild habitat. 

But when she returned to Canada and applied for tenure as a university professor, she was repeatedly denied, even though she had published numerous articles in academic journals.

According to Dagg, she was denied because she was a woman.

'They just said no'

"They just decided they didn't want another woman," she told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris. 

"I had all the qualifications at the University of Guelph and I'd taught there for five years and they were very happy with what I'd done. 

"But then I said, 'Oh, that means I can be a full professor.' And everyone was like, 'Well, wait a minute. That can't be right.' So they just said no." 

Anne Dagg talks to The Morning Edition host Craig Norris about being denied a tenure position at local universities and her hope that things will change for female scientists in the future. 1:48

Breaking down barriers

Dagg's pioneering work and struggle for recognition are now the subject of a new, feature-length documentary: The Woman Who Loves Giraffes.

When women watch the film, Dagg said she wants them to be upset by what happened to her in the 1950s and 60s - upset enough to complain about it. 

"If they see that the University of Guelph is treated negatively because of what happened, I think all universities will smarten up," she said. 

"From now on, maybe things will be equal. It won't matter what sex you are, you'll be doing the work that you love to do and that will be fantastic." 

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes is playing at The Princess Cinemas in Waterloo from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.