The outlook for science is promising in India and despite the increase in skepticism (77%) there is a high appreciation for science (93%) and scientists (92%) reports the 3M 2022 State of Science Index (SOSI). Indians believe in the role of science in their everyday lives (92%) with many Indians expecting science to drive social impact, focusing on solutions for sustainability, health, and STEM equity challenges.
“At 3M, we work to unlock the power of people, ideas, and science. Our State of Science Index helps us to re-imagine what’s possible and build futuristic solutions” said Ramesh Ramadurai, MD, 3M India. “The deep level of trust that younger generations have in science and the increasing role it plays in their lives is a very promising sign for the future. 3M will continue to encourage and highlight trusted and diverse voices in science to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.”
Misinformation may be threatening scientific credibility
The State of Science Index survey has revealed that the belief that misinformation on science is widespread across the country, which poses a threat to scientific credibility. Regardless of the subject, Indians say misinformation is prevalent on social media (84%) and traditional news (84%). On a positive note, 92% of Indians trust scientists, and 96% want to hear more from scientists about their work.
Addressing widespread misinformation is important because, according to SOSI, if we cannot trust news stories about science, Indian believe there will be consequences, including:
- More public health crises (57%)
- Greater division within society (52%)
- Lesser job opportunities. (55%)
Despite concerns of rampant misinformation, Indians recognize that science plays a crucial role is shaping social mindsets. Most notable Indians want science to prioritize vaccines for future pandemics more so than other countries. (57% vs. 50% globally)
Climate change is getting personal
Climate change and its effects are showing up in personal ways for Indians. Most Indians are concerned that they or a loved one may be displaced from where they live in the future due to extreme weather related to climate change (92% vs. 79% globally).
Reports indicate Indians are more concerned today than they were a year ago about: intensifying natural disasters (77%), ocean plastics pollution (78%), climate change (79%), clean water supply (79%) and air pollution (81%). To address these issues, Indians believe the top actions corporations should prioritize for a more sustainable future are reducing waste created by facilities (44%), reducing the amount of plastic in products, and lowering the amount of water used in products. (46%).
Indians feel society too needs to step up by prioritizing ways to covert rainwater and fog into drinkable, clean water. (55% vs. 49% globally).
DE&I in STEM needs significant work
Ninety three percent of Indians believe there are barriers to students pursuing a STEM education. They identify access (83%), affordability (43%), and bias/prejudice toward women (34%) or minorities (28%) as the greatest barriers. And while nearly all Indians believe it is important to increase DE&I in STEM fields (89%), most agree that underrepresented minority groups do not receive equal access to STEM education (86%). Nearly half of all Indians believe students have too many personal responsibilities to focus on STEM education. (43% vs. 37% globally)
The implication of STEM education barriers is significant, as education lays the foundation for better career opportunities. When it comes to women and girls in STEM, most Indians believe:
- More needs to be done to encourage and keep women/girls engaged in STEM education (89%)
- Women are a source of untapped potential in the STEM workforce (88%)
- Women are leaving STEM positions because they do not receive enough support. (83% vs. 66% globally)
- Women/girls are more discouraged from pursuing engineering than other science fields (83% vs. 62% globally)
“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.”
Improving health access and advancing health equity
According to 67% of Indians, improving access to quality healthcare should be the number one priority for the country. The top actions Indians believe that corporations should prioritize (beyond their core business purpose) is to healthcare entities to improve the quality of care (40%) and collaborating to address the root causes of health issues within underserved and underrepresented communities (44%).
The same holds true for advancements relating to social justice and change that Indians say society should prioritize over the next five years: ensuring equal access to quality healthcare regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, etc. (70%) and addressing the non-traditional root causes of health disparity within underserved and underrepresented communities (e.g., where you live, access to transportation, access to grocery stores, etc.) (68%).
According to SOSI respondents, healthcare is a key area where Indians are looking to science for solutions. Nearly one in every two Indians believe that beyond the current pandemic, science should prioritize cures for chronic diseases (50%), cancer treatments (45%), addressing mental and emotional health issues (41%), vaccines for future pandemics (57%) and addressing root causes/social drivers of health issues (44%).
Knowing the power of science to uncover solutions—and the many challenges our world is looking to science to solve—3M is proud to stand up for scientists and support the next generations of STEM talent. By advocating for truth in science reporting, innovating to develop science-based sustainability solutions and collaborating to help health care equity, 3M can help create a brighter future for the planet and its people.