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Understanding this year’s 3M State of Science Index

  • For the second year, 3M is sharing unique insights from our original research. The State of Science Index is an independent survey that explores global attitudes toward science, taking the pulse on how people think and feel about the field and its impact on the world around us.

    Why are we continuing our research? We are a science-based company that wants to solve society's biggest problems. To do so, we need to understand what the world thinks of science—and the role it plays in society—because it could impact the future. Understanding attitudes toward science can inform how we build a better and healthier world. In fact, 3M supports many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals including: good health & well-being, quality education, and decent work & economic growth. We are building and contributing to communities around science education, jobs, skills and safety in the workplace, as well as other aspects of health. Our annual State of Science Index also supports and informs 3M’s sustainability strategy and roadmap.

     

  • How did attitudes toward science change from 2018 to 2019?

    Last year’s results revealed fascinating tensions about the world’s perception of the field. We had data that proved the existence of both science skeptics and supporters. But what interested us most was the sheer amount of skeptics: 1 in 3 people (32%) questioned science.*

    In 2019, we see a continuation of that challenge—the number of skeptics increased by 3 percentage points.* However, this year we can now point to specific reasons why they feel this way and recommend appropriate solutions.

"People are more likely to care about science when they know what it will eventually do"

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  • People don’t actively stand up—or speak up—for science

    Only 20% of the world stands up for science when debating its merits with other people, meaning 80% do not.

    Despite what we’ve seen, 87% of people acknowledge we need science to solve the world’s problems. Our theory is that they don’t stand up for science simply because they don't realize there's a need to.

     

  • Take action to make science relatable

    What can we do to create more science champions? We can start by making science more relevant in people’s lives. For instance, we found one of the biggest drivers of interest in the field is demonstrating how advancements benefit future generations. In other words, people are more likely to care about science when they know what it will eventually do.

    Throughout this website, you can find stories and guides that help anyone stand up for science—whether you’re a STEM professional, educator, or someone who just appreciates science—because our field needs more champions like you. Here is what we learned and a preview of what to expect.

  • See the person behind the science.

    See the person behind the science

    Scientists are viewed as credible but perceived as unapproachable. Let's break down this barrier by highlighting the human side of science.

  • Connect with your audience.

    Connect with your audience

    The people have spoken, and they would be more interested in science if they knew its true impact. We’re giving scientists a guide (PDF, 4.51 MB) that helps them tell compelling stories about the work they’re doing to improve lives.

     

  • Advocate for STEM education.

    Advocate for STEM education

    Apart from funding, the biggest barrier to the future of science is education/training. 3Mgives will match the first $50,000 in individual donations for America’s highest-need K-12 science classrooms on DonorsChoose.

  • Let us hear from you.

    Let us hear from you.

    Give thanks to science and your mentors by using hashtag #CelebrateScience on social media. If you’re interested in learning more about ways to become a science champion in your community, connect with our chief science advocate, Dr. Jayshree Seth, on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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  • Methodology

    3M’s State of Science Index presents original, independent and nationally representative research conducted in 14 countries among the general population, including Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, UK, US. More than 1,000 respondents over the age of 18 in each of the 14 countries participated in this survey. Since 2018, it has been one of the largest, most global studies to explore attitudes to science and enables 3M to track and benchmark shifts in attitudes about science over time, using this first year as a baseline. Data from this research can be viewed as a 14-country, global average, or individually by country. At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 0.83 percentage points at the global level and +/- 3.1 percentage points for each individual country. To compare results year-over-year, a 12-country tracking average was used - as France and Saudi Arabia were replaced with South Korea and Spain - which has a margin of error of +/- 0.9 percentage points.

    *Based on the 12-country tracking average includes: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, UK, US


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Related stories

  • Beyond the beaker

    Meet real scientists who solve everyday problems, and hear their unique perspectives on this year's results. 

  • Scientists as storytellers

    Scientists can use different communications skills to lead the charge in getting more people to care about science.

  • The STEM generation

    Help us give to the most promising U.S. STEM classrooms in partnership with DonorsChoose.

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