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2021 Survey Summary

  • Scientist working with microscope

    Since 2018, 3M has launched the annual State of Science Index to track attitudes to science. In 2021, we focused on how to understand and forecast the long-term impact COVID-19 had on perceptions of science. In addition, we went further on in-depth themes that have been previously explored in past surveys such as sustainability, STEM equity, and leadership in science. The 2021 State of Science Index was fielded from February to March 2021.

  • The world has altered their perceptions of science.

    In the early months of 2021, the need for science became more apparent as COVID-19 vaccines were beginning to roll out. Wave five of the 3M State of Science Index showed more progression on people’s perceptions of science. Science skepticism was at its lowest point (27%) since tracking began in 2018 and dropped twice within the past year.

    Notes of optimism seem to be a recurring theme. Trust in science was up five points since 2018, and up one point from the 2020 Pandemic Pulse at 91%. Those who only believe science that aligns with their personal beliefs was down 7 points since 2019 at 35%. This was important to note because we saw how the world was viewing science a year into the pandemic, and as governments were beginning to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Wave five of the State of Science Index came with more dynamics on how science influenced our behavior during the pandemic. It is important to understand how the world was viewing science a year into the pandemic. 91% of respondents agreed that to contain the spread of COVID-19, people’s actions should follow evidence and advice. With vaccine roll out, 88% agreed that vaccines are an essential part of how science address public health concerns. Likewise, 82% stated that most people they know were following scientific evidence and advice to stay safe during the pandemic.

    We saw the indifference to science on a downward trajectory. 30% agreed that if science didn’t exist, their everyday lives wouldn’t be all that different—in comparison to the pre-pandemic results of 35%. In terms of people who rarely think about the impact of science in their everyday lives, the percent dropped 10 points from 2020 pre-pandemic to 59%.

    The pandemic opened the world's eyes to the need for STEM education and careers. In times of uncertainty, creating more opportunities for younger generations is imperative. The key to sparking interests within STEM and science must start early with education. Attracting more students to STEM can be seen from: Teaching science in a more engaging way, providing children with different pathways within science, providing insights on how science can make the world better, and the schools’ investments in science curricula. Likewise, to expanding STEM education, the 2021 results show that STEM equity with underrepresented groups is still a major problem. With 88% agreeing that it is important to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM, there are still obstacles for women and other minority groups in STEM. To increase diversity in STEM, 3M has taken a new STEM goal to empower underrepresented individuals.

    3M is set to advance economic equity by creating five million unique STEM and Skilled Trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025. Additional information regarding 3M’s goal to bridge the diversity gap in STEM can be found at 3M News Center.

    Explore below to uncover some of the other major findings from the 2021 State of Science Index.

How do we inspire the world to see the impact of science?

3M Chief Science Advocate Dr. Jayshree Seth boils down the State of Science in 2021.

Image of Dr. Jayshree Seth smiling.
3M Chief Science Advocate Dr. Jayshree Seth boils down the ‘State of Science’ in 2021.
  • Explore the 2021 survey findings

    We invite you to explore insights country-by-country through our explorer tool. We hope you’ll share and discuss the research. What do you think they mean to science today and in the future? View the 2021 survey explorer. For an overview of the combined global results, download our 2021 pdf here (PDF, 17.94 MB).

  • 2021 Methodology

    3M’s State of Science Index presents original, independent, and nationally representative (based on census demographics) research in 2021.

    The 2021 State of Science Index survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,000 general population adults, 18 years and older, across the following 17 countries: US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, China, India, UAE, and Australia. At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 0.75 percentage points at the 17-country level and +/- 3.1 percentage points for each individual country.

    To compare results year over year, a 10-country tracking average was used which has a margin of error of +/- 0.98 percentage points.

  • woman in mask standing in a city at night - 3M state of science index global 2022 report
    3M State of Science Index Global 2022 Report
  • Not the Science Type featuring Dr. Ciara Sivels, Gitanjali Rao, Dr. Jayshree Seth, and Dr. Jessica Taaffe
    Not the Science Type

    Female scientists challenge stereotypes and blaze paths for future generations in this 3M-produced docuseries.