cover image Smitten by Giraffe: My Life as a Citizen Scientist

Smitten by Giraffe: My Life as a Citizen Scientist

Anne Innis Dagg. McGill-Queen’s Univ, $34.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7735-4799-5

In this plainspoken memoir, Canadian zoologist Dagg (Giraffe: Biology, Behavior and Conservation) chronicles her unusual life as a “citizen scientist” and the deeply ingrained sexism she experienced in academia. A serendipitous sighting of a giraffe at a zoo when Dagg was three years old in 1936 sparked her desire to learn about these creatures. When Dagg grew older, she decided to become a zoologist, teaching and conducting research at a university. It seemed like an achievable goal, especially when Dagg, as a newly minted University of Toronto graduate, went to Africa in 1956 to study wild giraffes, a first in the scientific world. As she added to her academic credentials—earning her Ph.D., lecturing, and writing about wildlife—while marrying and raising a family, Dagg encountered a major setback: she was told she would never receive a permanent position at one university “because she had a man to support her.” Rather than quietly giving up, Dagg chose to advocate for other women in academia and continue her own work as an independent scientist, doing research without academic affiliation or support. Dagg’s accounts of her research may be too detailed for some readers, but her passionate engagement with the world shines through in all the experiences she recounts. (Oct.)