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3M Joins Forces with the National Math and Science Initiative to Elevate Diverse Profiles in STEM

There is hope on the horizon for science: young people trust science and expect it to solve the world's challenges, reports the 3M 2022 State of Science Index (SOSI). While all generations have exceptionally high trust in science (90% younger, 89% older), younger generations are more likely to say science is very important to their everyday lives (61% of Gen Z and Millennials, vs. 53% of Gen X and Baby Boomers). SOSI data shows people around the world looking to science to drive social impact, including solutions for sustainability, STEM equity and health care challenges.

STEM gaps begin in education, remain through professional workforce

Across the globe, barriers to a strong STEM education are increasing. Thirteen of the 17 countries surveyed saw a year-over-year increase in the percentage of people who reported STEM education roadblocks, from China (+12 percentage points from 2021 to 2022) to France (+9 ppts), Poland (+8 ppts) and Italy (+8 ppts). They identify access2 (76%), affordability (47%), competing personal priorities (37%) and bias/prejudice toward women or minorities (33%) as the greatest barriers. While 87% of people believe it's important to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, 71% say underrepresented minorities often do not receive equal access to STEM education.

The implication of increasing STEM education barriers is significant, as education lays the foundation for future career opportunities. Survey respondents show particular concern for women and girls in STEM:

  • More needs to be done to encourage and keep women/girls engaged in STEM education (84%)
  • Women are a source of untapped potential in the STEM workforce (81%)
  • Women are leaving STEM positions because they do not receive enough support (66%)
  • Women/girls are more discouraged from pursuing engineering than other science fields (62%)

"Challenges around STEM equity begin at an early age for women and underrepresented minorities, and continue to snowball for those who choose to pursue STEM careers against all odds," said Jayshree Seth, corporate scientist and chief science advocate, 3M. "Greater diversity in the scientific workforce—which often begins with a spark of STEM interest that ignites in early childhood—will lead to a greater positive impact on society."

In 2021, 3M announced a global education-focused goal to advance economic equity by creating 5 million unique STEM and skilled trade learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025. To move toward this goal, 3M is joining forces with the National Math and Science Initiative to elevate the profile of women and minorities in STEM professions. Leveraging the Not the Science Type documentary, NMSI's team created middle and high school discussion guides focused on career pathways, intersectionality and forging ahead despite the societal stereotypes of scientists. NMSI offered watch parties to spur dialogue for teachers and classrooms across the nation about inclusion in science, particularly in districts with high percentages of underrepresented student populations.

Read the full 3M 2022 State of Science Index press release here