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3M Global Study Reveals That Science Is Underestimated


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St. Paul, MN - Science needs a paladin. This is the conclusion to which 3M has come after the analysis of its first annual State of Science Index (SOSI), a global study that exposes the attitudes of the general population towards science. At first glance, the results of the study suggest that the sentiment towards science is overwhelmingly positive: half of the respondents believe that flying cars will become reality in the course of their lives and 87% rate science as fascinating, not boring.

However, after a more detailed inspection, the survey reveals that many people are unaware of the impact that science has on their lives: almost 40% believe that everyday life would not be very different if science did not exist (38%). A pattern of skepticism about science also prevails. The study found that almost one third (32%) of the world's population is skeptical of science, and 20% distrust scientists.

The State of Independent Science Index in 14 countries was commissioned by 3M (MMM), a global science and innovation company, and led by Ipsos, a global market research firm. The study explores the image of science throughout the world. Respondents were asked about their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of science, as well as about the image and future of science.

"We set out to do a survey of what the general public thinks and feels about science, and its impact on the world. Is science valued and reliable, or is it not appreciated? "Said John Banovetz, director of technology at 3M. "These fertile knowledge highlight science and reveal differences in attitudes between emerging and developed countries, men and women, and even between generations. The world is experiencing more and more technological advances every day and science drives these innovations. Through the availability and accessibility of the survey data, we hope to inspire the champions of science and future scientists everywhere, and we hope to bring greater appreciation of science to the world. "

Key study information

  • For many, science is only considered accessible to "geniuses" . The study found that more than a third of people feel intimidated by science, and 36% agree that only geniuses can have a career in science.
  • More work is needed to address the gender gap in science. Women are less committed and interested in science than men. They are more likely than men to say they know nothing about science (21% versus 15%) and have a significantly lower probability of believing that a career in engineering would be rewarding (9% vs. 25%). Women, however, are more interested than men in medicine (20% vs. 14%) and life sciences (15% vs. 10%).
  • Science is more appreciated at the macrosocietary level, than at the micro-level and everyday level. Many more people believe that science is very important for society in general (63%) than it is for everyday life (46%).
  • People have great expectations for science. Approximately three out of four people believe that science can solve the different global challenges inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Globally, people are optimistic that science can solve the challenges related to access to affordable renewable energy (75%) and energy supply (74%). People also turn to science to solve the challenges related to the treatment of diseases (75%), drinking water and sanitation (73%) and access to the Internet (73%). But the confidence in science to solve the following global challenges is much lower: climate change (46%), hunger (45%),
  • People are largely unaware of the science and the impact on their lives. The majority (66%) think about the impact that science has on their daily life as "from little to nothing".
  • Almost half of the population wishes to have followed a career in science. While a small majority of people (54%) do not regret opting for a career not related to science, almost half would like to have chosen a career in science (46%).
  • Skeptics of science and supporters of science think similarly about their children and the next generation. When it comes to the next generation, skeptics and non-skeptics of science are surprisingly aligned: 82% would encourage children to pursue a career in science and 92% of parents want their children to know more about science; At the same time, 33% think that students need a better understanding of how science improves the world to inspire them to pursue a related career.

The full data of the study, which includes the individual breakdowns of the 14 countries and the possibility of people to further explore the data, can be found at .

Optimism for the future of science

Despite skepticism and general misunderstanding about science, enthusiasm for the future of scientific advances is high. When asked about what they believe science will achieve in the course of their lives, the main responses included robots in each workplace (64%), robots in each household (55%) and flying cars (51%). In addition, there were expectations of underwater life (41%) and of inhabiting Mars (35%), all in the course of our lives.

In general, the study found that respondents from emerging countries are more optimistic about future scientific advances than respondents from developed countries. It is much more likely that respondents from emerging countries think that flying cars (58% in emerging countries vs. 43% in developed countries) and climate control (43% vs. 22%) will be possible over the course of their lives .

"Even great scientific breakthroughs are the product of multiple discoveries during years of work," Banovetz said. "If students think that only geniuses can have a career in science and people remain indifferent to science, how can we prosper as a society and continue to innovate? To ensure a better future, we must be vigilant to help people understand all the incredible opportunities and innovations that science has given us, as well as to understand the dedication, rigor and investment required to achieve those results. "

3M's commitment to science

Recognizing the need to defend science, 3M has named Dr. Jayshree Seth as the first 3M science advocate in history. Dr. Seth will be an ambassador that encourages and contributes to dialogues about the image of science and its importance in improving lives around the world.

As an expert scientist with a doctorate in chemical engineering and 60 patents in her name, Dr. Seth has earned the distinguished title of corporate scientist, the highest position within the technical community at 3M. In addition to her achievements in scientific innovation, Dr. Seth is passionate about mentoring young scientists and other 3M employees.

"As a student, I myself had difficulties with science issues. I was fortunate to have inspiring teachers and an encouraging family that really believed in the benefits of science, "said Dr. Seth. "In my role as the main champion of science, I will create awareness and break the barriers to appreciation and enthusiasm for science. I want people to know that it is not necessary to be a genius to be a scientist. I want people to understand how science improves lives and drives the innovations we trust every minute of every day. And, ultimately, I want to be part of the solution that creates a new generation of science advocates.1 We need science to solve problems and take advantage of the opportunities that arise from that growth, such as increased use of energy, water scarcity, transportation congestion and air pollution. "

The appointment of Dr. Seth to the role of principal advocate of science is based on 3M's 40-year commitment to foster the next generation of scientists and improve lives. Across the United States and internationally, 3M provides substantial resources to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, STEM).

In the United States, 3M's 10-year commitment to the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, a premier science competition for high school students, has connected aspirants to young scientists with 3M mentors. Globally, 3Mgives, the company's philanthropic arm, has supported dozens of local markets through programs, such as a partnership with "Let's Talk Science" in Canada for more than 10 years, an Initiative mobile science laboratory in India, a five-year science challenge in Brazil, which includes teacher training and student competition,

In 2018, 3Mgives will make a significant investment in international STEM initiatives. For example, the company will participate in a new STEMania program in Saudi Arabia to promote gender equity and encourage young women in primary and intermediate grades to pursue STEM careers.

Methodology of the study

Ipsos conducted the study with 14 036 adults in 14 countries between June 14, 2017 and August 26, 2017. The survey was conducted through a combination of online and offline interviews. Approximately 1000 people over 18 years were surveyed in each country. Countries included in the study: Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The sample for each country was representative at the national level according to age, gender, region and race / ethnicity (when applicable). At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error for the global total of 14 countries is +/- 0.83 percentage points.

  • Developed: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States
  • Emerging: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Poland, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Africa
About 3M

At 3M, we apply science in cooperative ways to improve everyday lives. With USD 32 billion in sales, our 91,000 employees contact customers around the world. Learn more about 3M's creative solutions to the world's problems at or on Twitter @ 3M or @ 3MNews.


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