DataPoints: Perceptions of trade careers, STEM equity


A new report from international science-based manufacturer 3M highlights persistent gaps in Americans’ views on education and careers related to STEM and the skilled trades.

The report observes that the skilled trades continue to have an image problem. Most Americans agree there is a need for more skilled trade workers, yet 71% say despite their respect for the profession they would not pursue a skilled trade themselves. There is a slight perception gap among generations, as younger generations — particularly Millenials — are a little less likely to see the value in skilled trades.

Americans also acknowledge issues in STEM equity. 69% agree that underrepresented minority groups often do not have equal access to STEM education. The report says key barriers to STEM education are bias, access and affordability.

There also are significant gaps in the U.S. STEM workforce that are not improving, the report says. 57% of survey participants see a gender gap in the STEM workforce (see more in graphic below); 56% believe there’s a racial/ethnic gap; and 40% observe an LGBTQ+ gap. The report notes that nearly four of five respondents (79%) agree that science companies would have a greater positive impact on society if there was greater diversity and representation within their workforce.

The annual 3M report looks at the future of science and captures sentiment related to the company’s core brand priorities of STEM equity, health equity, upskilling/trades, and environmental justice/sustainability. The report is based on a survey of 1,000 general population adults from 17 countries, including the U.S.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.
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