What is it?
Equity in science and technology means that all people, regardless of their national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, educational background and family structures, are given equitable opportunities to learn and become engaged in science and technology through equal access to education. It’s about bridging gaps and creating a level playing field where all individuals have access to science and technology learning environments. To achieve equity, relentless action and continuous learning are required.
For the last five years, 3M has conducted the annual State of Science Index (SOSI), a 14-country global survey that tracks attitudes about science. A main theme that emerged from the 2021 results was that STEM equity and gender/ race inequality are barriers that impact the society’s future. According to the SOSI data, 27% of the respondents cite some form of inequality (race, ethnicity, gender) — and this surges to 50% in the United States. Women and minorities are particularly underrepresented in science and technology roles. Their underrepresentation creates a void of new ideas and perspectives from diverse backgrounds.
Equity in the workforce leads to better problem-solving, expands the talent pool and is important for long-term economic growth. Equity in science and technology fields requires effective education for all students in order to develop tomorrow’s workforce. Industries are recognizing the current and historical disparities and setting goals to improve and increase equity in their organizations.
Building a more equitable future will help solve the world’s problems. People working in science and technology professions need to represent the people using science and technology products and services. They also need to represent and understand the diverse problems of diverse individuals. Equity in science and technology means representation of society as a whole. It is not only good for those underrepresented in these fields — it’s good for everyone.
Equity at 3M
At 3M, we are a collaborative, diverse group of people whose ideas transform the future. Inclusion and diversity are among the values that shape our purpose and bind us together. Inclusion is the key to unlocking the power of diverse perspectives because it fuels collaboration and creates opportunities for innovative solutions. Equity and access to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) learning in youth are core passions and priorities for 3M. We see ourselves as having the opportunity to help lead the sciences forward via systems that break down barriers and give all individuals an opportunity to engage with the sciences to unlock their talents.
In 2020, 3M created a new Equity & Community organization to support our goals and commitments to progress equity in our workplaces, business practices and communities globally. We are committed to accelerating representation across all dimensions of diversity and systematically review and adjust our practices for fairness and equity. The company is committed to advancing economic equity by creating five million unique STEM and Skilled Trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025. We also support many initiatives that promote STEM equity. For example, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge aligns with 3M's commitment to fostering the next generation of science leaders and exemplifies how a quality STEM education can get young people interested and excited about science as a way to improve lives all around the world.
We believe that the future requires diverse thinkers to solve diverse problems. When we give more individuals opportunities to work in the sciences, we create new avenues and new solutions to solve diverse problems. Helping localize access to STEM at any level creates opportunities to solve local problems. We believe that by enabling individuals to realize their potential, we create meaningful change rooted in scientific thinking.
Big Picture: What could it mean for the future?
Progress and breakthroughs often come from diverse perspectives or the ability to see a problem differently. More equity in science and technology will lead to more diversity in science and technology fields, more collaboration globally, more innovative ideas and new and improved approaches to existing research techniques. The future can be an equitable playing field where we celebrate diversity and the innovation it brings.
Learn more about the way 3M views equity through science and technology in the stories below. Explore topics from diversity in science to STEM access from esteemed 3M experts.