For the first time since 2018, fewer Canadians are skeptical of science.
New research from the 2020 3M State of Science Index1 shows Canadian skepticism in science has dropped significantly to 21% from 29% pre-pandemic, with 50% of Canadians now more willing to advocate for science due to the pandemic (compared to 25% pre-pandemic who said they would stand up for science when debating its merits).
Humanity’s battle against COVID-19 has put the scientific community in the spotlight, and 3M Canada’s President, Penny Wise, believes this is science's moment and a crucial time to change attitudes around STEM education.
“As we face some of the world’s biggest challenges, the study shows that Canadians have more confidence in science than ever before. The 3M State of Science Index shows while the positive image of science is on the rise, barriers to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education must be removed if we want to continue to solve critical issues that Canadians care about most. As a science company, we are absolutely committed to that call.” - Penny Wise, President of 3M Canada.
Encouraging more Canadians to take up STEM fields.
Among those discouraged from science when they were K-12 students, 43% of Canadians, compared to 34% globally, said being told they weren’t smart enough was the main reason they felt discouraged from pursuing science in school.2
In addition, the 3M State of Science Index reveals more needs to be done to provide students with clear examples of how science plays a role in various career choices. 58% of Canadians said that students would be more inspired to pursue a career in science if they had a better understanding of different science career opportunities, according to pre-pandemic data.3
“The action plan for advocates of science is to address the stigma taking place around STEM education and reinforce the benefits of STEM education and careers,” said Wise. “From parents to educators, governments and industry, we need to focus on deliberately and systematically encouraging students to press on, not give up, and expose them to the bright future that science has to offer.”
“A profession in science isn’t limited to the lab. In fact, many occupations we come across in our everyday lives rely on science, from designing to cooking and athletics, science has a part in all of it,” said Wise. “It’s important we encourage and support our youth, while also drawing the link between how science contributes to the occupations our youth are passionate about in order to help them develop a curiosity beyond what they normally see. That’s where we’ll find the future workforce who will help improve lives for decades to come.”
Read more: 3M’s science expert, Tina Kalopisis, gives her view on the importance of strong mentors while pursuing a career in STEM.
“It’s important for youth to see first-hand what a future in STEM could look like and that spark starts at home and in the classroom,” said Brett McCollum, PhD, Professor of Chemistry at Mount Royal University, 3M Teaching Fellow recipient, 2019. “As educators and as parents, we need to shake off our fixed mindset that says talent determines success. Instead, we can encourage youth with the message that they have the opportunity to make a difference. Science that changes the world is based in practice and perseverance."
Did you know? The 2020 3M National Teaching Fellowship Award recognizes 10 recipients from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) who are excellent teachers and community leaders and understand the power of elevating students to their full potential.
Key findings from 2020 3M State of Science Index:
Building a stronger, more equitable future.
To learn more about attitudes towards science in Canada and across the globe, visit our pages here:
- Canadian findings: 3m.ca/stateofscience
- Full global data: https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/state-of-science-index-survey/interactive-3m-state-of-science-survey/
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1, 2, and 3: 3M. The 2020 3M State of Science Index. 2020
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