Indians bet on ‘science’ for recovery post the pandemic, reveals 3M’s State of Science Index (SOSI)

Science has the phenomenal potential to solve the world’s greatest challenges, transform businesses and make our world a better place. From manufacturing personal, protective equipment, developing vaccines to the overall response to COVID-19, science is heightening the world’s expectations for what is possible, according to the 3M State of Science Index 2021. 

The State of Science Index (SOSI) is a third-party, independent research study commissioned by 3M and conducted annually for the past four years to track attitudes towards science. The 2021 findings emphasize that there has been a significant improvement in the public image of science. 

90% Indians trust science:

In India, 90% of respondents said that they trust science – a significant increase of 3 percentage points since the 2020 Pre-Pandemic Survey. About 85% agreed that there are negative consequences to society if science is not valued while a majority of 87% Indian respondents will stand up to skeptics by defending science if someone questions it as against 75% globally.  

Renewed interest in STEM careers; increased emphasis on gender diversity and inclusion in the field

While COVID-19 has certainly spotlighted the importance of scientists searching for a vaccine, its influence goes wider. The pandemic has ignited a renewed interest in STEM careers and education. Scientists and medical professionals are inspiring people to pursue STEM-based careers in the future, especially among younger generations. In India, 91% of respondents agree that the world needs more people pursuing STEM-related careers. Due to the pandemic, about four-in-five are more inspired to pursue a STEM career that accounts for 83% as against 60% globally. The survey also highlights the need for greater gender diversity and inclusion in STEM. About 85% of Indian respondents agree that it is important to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields and 83% acknowledge that underrepresented minority groups often do not receive equal access to STEM education. 

“Events of the past year have put a spotlight on the education gap within underserved communities,” said Dr. Jayshree Seth, Corporate Scientist and Chief Science Advocate, 3M. “Gender inequalities, and unequal access to a quality STEM education for under-resourced students, continue to affect economic outcomes across the globe. We must all do our part to create greater opportunities, by strengthening STEM investments, eliminating underrepresentation in STEM, and bridging the STEM talent gap so that we can all realize the promise of a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society.” 

“Science is becoming more of a uniting factor as the world moves toward a common mission to build a safer, greener, stronger, and more equitable future,” said Mike Roman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, 3M. “The world’s confidence in science is confirmed every day as we see more and more examples of its impact, from the COVID-19 recovery to advancing sustainability, making a meaningful difference.”   

Need for immediate attention towards the health of the planet:

The State of Science Index exposes a growing concern and a sense of urgency surrounding the health of the planet. India has become more environmentally conscious – even more than many of the other countries surveyed. A significant majority (87%) agree that solutions to mitigate climate change need to happen immediately, and 89% confirm their belief that the world should follow science to help create a more sustainable future. 

Commenting on SOSI, Ramesh Ramadurai, Managing Director, 3M India, said, “At 3M, the success of our business is inextricably linked with the health of our planet. The pandemic has also brought greater attention to sustainability issues, with a focus on making more sustainable lifestyle choices. There is a lot one can do in our daily lives to bend the curve of environmental degradation. It is time we all realize the impact our action can make to change our environment.” 

Partner, preempt, prepare and prosper

The survey further emphasized the importance of cross-border and cross-sector collaboration as essential to scientific advancement in India. Approximately 84% of respondents feel that countries should collaborate to create solutions based on science to address major challenges. Given the events over the past six months, the top three actions people in India most want corporations to prioritize are, prepare for future pandemics (52%), provide existing employees with new skills and training for their future careers (47%), and create new jobs/employment opportunities for underrepresented minority groups within their corporation (46%).

3M initiatives:

3M recently announced actions to build even greater equity in its communities, business practices and workplaces, setting a new global, education-focused goal. The company will advance economic equity by creating five million unique STEM and Skilled Trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025.  3M is also releasing a docuseries for the public this June. “Not the Science Type,” features the stories of four female scientists with different careers as they challenge stereotypes and confront and overcome gender, racial, and age discrimination.  

Over the past year, 3M hasjoinedthe UN to raise awareness of epidemic preparedness using science-based information and best practices for disease prevention and response.

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