In science we trust, Australians say
Australians strongly trust science and scientists, think science strengthens the country, and want more investment in science to speed our post-pandemic recovery.
Those are the key findings from the 3M State of Science Index — a major new study that among other things reflects the pivotal role science has played to help Australia to tackle COVID-19.
The 3M State of Science Index measures public attitudes to science in 17 countries. In 2021, it asked Australians for their views on science and its role in our lives. The results were discussed today by Science & Technology Australia (STA), in the lead-up to National Science Week (14–22 August).
The survey reveals Australians have very strong levels of trust in science — higher than in many other nations — as nine in 10 of us say we trust science and scientists. Australians also strongly support more investment in science, with 19 in 20 of us thinking it will make the country stronger and nine in 10 saying science should help drive policymaking.
In other key findings:
- 93% of Australians see scientists as critical to our future wellbeing in light of the pandemic;
- Two in three parents think that during the pandemic, scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career in the future;
- 92% of Australians agree that the world needs more people pursuing STEM-related careers, with 84% saying more needs to be done to keep women and girls engaged in STEM education;
- 84% of Australians think there are negative consequences for society if we don’t value science, and 74% say there will be negative consequences if science fails to attract more women to STEM careers.
STA CEO Misha Schubert said the new data confirms the very strong levels of trust from Australians in science and scientists, noting, “Science has been our saviour in the pandemic. Scientists around the world have worked round the clock on safe and effective new vaccines, careful public health strategies to save lives, and real-time data to support our frontline healthcare heroes.
“It’s heartening to see how strongly Australians recognise, respect, and are reassured by the powerful contribution science and our scientists have made. Australians also clearly want science to lead our social and economic recovery.”
Chris LeBlanc, Managing Director of 3M Australia and New Zealand, said science is viewed as essential to shaping, strengthening and improving Australia.
“Since 3M started the State of Science Index four years ago, trust in science globally remains at the highest level we have recorded. The Index has captured a moment in history when the impact of science on our lives has never been more visible,” he said.
“While the pandemic has been a truly unpredictable hurdle for people in Australia and around the world, we have had some remarkable achievements due to the power of science. People once considered to be hidden away in labs have become the heroes of our society.”
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