As a science-based technology company, we have a vested interest in ensuring that the future talent pool is equipped with the curiosity, skills and passion that is needed for our business to continue to thrive and to improve lives for everyone.
Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do, so we know that when it comes to innovating for the future, it is crucial to encourage young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to consider a career in science and engineering. Making sure that everyone has a seat at the table can foster diverse and creating thinking, helping to solve global challenges and build a more sustainable future.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers are experiencing some of the highest levels of growth, yet they still don’t represent wider society.
Women make up less than a quarter of the UK STEM workforce. Minority ethnic men are 28% less likely to work in STEM than white men. Almost 30% of LGBTQ+ people would not consider a career in STEM due to fear of being discriminated against and people with disabilities only represent five per cent of the engineering workforce.
To help redress the balance, we have joined forces with the British Science Association to tackle societally-entrenched stereotypes of scientists. Together, our Smashing Stereotypes campaign encourages scientists and researchers to share their stories about what they do in their day-to-day work to highlight the diversity of the STEM workforce and the broad range of jobs and careers available.
This year we’re taking the campaign to the next level as part of our annual partnership with British Science Week, running from 5-14 March. The theme for 2021 is “innovating for the future”, and we’ve put our own diverse teams in the spotlight to inspire the next generation of creative minds from all walks of life. It’s only by doing this that science and engineering companies like 3M will be able to innovate for the future.
We want to challenge the concept of the 'lone scientist' by highlighting that teams of diverse people with different experiences, skills, ethnicities, genders, personalities and cultures can challenge the status quo and offer fresh perspectives that enable creativity and innovative thinking to thrive.
Those featured in the campaign have collaborated to solve challenges such as using science to detect fake respirators, engineering the cars of the future and scaling up the production of respirators to protect frontline health care workers.
The results of 3M’s annual State of Science Index (SOSI) shows that trust in science is increasing. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of this issue, but it is clear that we still have work to do to show that science is relevant to everyone.
We also need inspirational role models to encourage young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to aspire to a career in science or engineering and to improve access to STEM education for all.