State of science

In light of the pandemic, 93% of Canadians recognize scientists as being critical to our future well-being.

While nearly all (92%) Canadians agree that the world needs more people pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related careers, 87% also agree that it is important to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. At the same time, 68% of Canadians acknowledged that under-represented minority groups often don’t receive access to STEM education.

These are just a few of the Canadian findings from 3M’s annual State of Science Index. For the past 4 years, 3M has conducted its global survey, through multi-country original research. Its “data explorer” tools enable examination of every question in the survey, allowing filtering of all responses by country, age, income and more.

There is cause for optimism: 85% of Canadians are hopeful 2021 will be a better year than 2020 because of science.

However, students indicated they would be more inspired to pursue STEM if they had a better understanding of the different career opportunities in science. The research also suggested students would be more inspired to pursue a career in science if the field was positioned as a “platform to make the world better.” The overwhelming majority (93%) of Canadians agree that investments in science make the country stronger. Seven out of eight Canadians say that they wish they knew more about science.

And the past year has helped reduce skepticism in science: compared to before the pandemic, Canadians are more likely to see science as important to their everyday lives.

Decades ago, when I worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey, we would have people visit inner city schools to talk about the cool things we were working on. Increased diversity means investing years to stimulate an interest among elementary school kids in entering STEM programs in high school and university. That demands partnerships between industry and governments and all levels of education.

Are we doing enough to develop the next generation of Canada’s science leaders?

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