Dr. Jayshree Seth is a Corporate Scientist and Chief Science Advocate at 3M. Jayshree has worked at 3M now for over 27 years and she holds 68 patents for a wide variety of innovations. In this interview series, Jayshree shares her experience with 3M, her affinity for science and more.
Can you tell us more about 3M’s State of Science Index and why 3M does this global survey? What was most surprising in what you learned?
As a science-based company, science matters to us. We started this journey to understand what people think of science around the world. Do they see the impact? So, we conducted an independent, global survey on the perceptions of science for two years running—28,000 people were surveyed across 14 countries.
We have seen results in the survey that says that 35 percent of the world is skeptical of science and even more importantly, 40 percent of the world thinks that if science didn’t exist, their lives would be no different. That’s astounding.
Some of the people were actually taking the survey on their smart phones or computers, so it’s obvious that people are not seeing the connection between science and all the benefits of science that make their lives easier on a daily basis.
Imagine your life during this pandemic without science…going without your cellphone to check the news or emails or contact a loved one for even 24 hours! Imagine where we would be without the internet and technology to enable our Zoom calls! Now think about the critical nature of our healthcare systems and all the PPE that protect our healthcare heroes who are keeping us safe.
We want to inspire science champions and future scientists everywhere and bring a greater appreciation of science to the world. If people don’t trust science, if they are indifferent to it, there are consequences for the future. For example, negative perceptions of science create barriers to young people entering the field, and that impacts the future innovation pipeline. So, we are looking for advocates and people who are willing to join us in standing up for science.
How is 3M encouraging diversity in STEM/STEAM?
I’m glad you asked about this. We know that game-changing innovations are not created in a vacuum. They require the vision, imagination and the ability to see what doesn’t exist today. I have seen time and again that this only really happens when a truly multidimensional team comes together to share ideas and collaborate. The more diversity, the more likely disruptive innovation will emerge.
3M has a longstanding history of investing in our communities and engaging 3Mers to support both our local and national STEM outreach programs. I’m proud to say that our programs have a focus on helping to provide access to high-quality educational opportunities for underrepresented and under-resourced groups. As a science-based company, we are committed to encouraging careers in STEM to support a diverse workforce for generations to come.
To achieve our goal of helping underrepresented and under-resourced students advance in STEM, we invest in programs that:
- Increase STEM exposure for K-12 learners. Examples include our 3M Science at Home program to support STEM-based distance learning during COVID-19; our 3M Visiting Wizards program, which provides in-classroom experiments and inspiration; our national sponsorship of MathCounts, a national organization that creates extracurricular math programs; our partnership with DonorsChoose.org in support of specific classroom needs; and science-based field trips.
- Support experiential learning opportunities for high school students. Examples include our FIRST ® Robotics sponsorship and 3M STEP (Science Training Encouragement Program), which places students in the lab alongside 3M scientists.
- Invest in the recruitment of diverse STEM teachers and provide professional development to enhance the quality of STEM teaching. Examples include: our partnership with Teach for America; and the 3M TWIST program (Teachers Working in Science and Technology) which provides middle and high school math, science and technology teachers the opportunity to spend a summer working closely with a 3M host on a 3M research project.
- Provide scholarships and supporting professional development opportunities for diverse students pursuing STEM degrees. Examples include our support for the Wallin Education Scholarship, UNCF and HSF Scholarships and National GEM Consortium and 3M support for the National Society of Black Engineers and Society of Hispanic Engineers.