Dublin, Monday 23rd November 2020: Pfizer Healthcare Ireland has released new research findings investigating the public’s interest in science and the role of STEM related subjects in both primary and secondary education. The research conducted by B&A, shows that just one in eight Irish people believe they have a high-level knowledge of science, while half of people (49%) believe they have moderate knowledge. Men and younger adults are more likely to suggest a high level of knowledge.
When it comes to education, just under half (47%) of those surveyed believed achieving the leaving cert points required to secure a 3rd level STEM course would be too difficult. Whilst 79% of respondents would like to see more focus of science in primary school. Meanwhile, 72% of those who studied a science subject at leaving cert studied biology for the Leaving Certificate compared to just 6% studying computer science in secondary school. However, this year shows a significant increase in the number of people studying computer science at college or university (42 percent) compared to Index figures last year (29 percent).
Meanwhile just over one in ten (11%) of people work in a STEM profession in Ireland, however the research also confirms a significant gender gap in the percentage of men (15%) and women (7%) working in STEM related careers. 35% (1 in 3) feel there are more STEM opportunities in Ireland than elsewhere, with younger adults and those in Dublin and particularly those working in a STEM most likely to agree. Almost two-thirds (62%) believe that people leaving college with a STEM qualification have a better career prospects than those with a non-STEM qualification. The research also reveals the importance of science within the eyes of the public, with 59% strongly agreeing that scientific advance is now more important in light of COVID-19.
The research launches in tandem with Pfizer and Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin new digital-led initiative, Speed of Science which tells the historical story of vaccines and the role of scientific advancement in society. The windows of Science Gallery Dublin on Pearse Street also feature an installation of the initiative where passers-by can get a glimpse of what to expect. The initiative takes us on a journey through scale; moving from personal immunity - examining how the body responds to vaccination, through a local scale looking at community immunity, to a global scale – demonstrating the transformation of societies and health systems through vaccinations.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD said: “This valuable research gives us an insight into people’s perceptions towards science, and the barriers that still exist. We can also see the imbalance in the representation of women in STEM professions. It demonstrates to me as Minister the huge body of work we have to do to excite and encourage people about science and its impact on our daily lives. We need science more than ever in this post-Covid world and we want and need Ireland to be a leader in this field.”
Paul Reid, Managing Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, said, “This new online-led initiative and installation in the Science Gallery aims to enhance public engagement with scientific themes and make science accessible and fun for all age groups. The topic of vaccines is obviously a topical one. Immunization is a global health and development success story, saving millions of lives every year in a very cost-effective manner. Vaccines help to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases (such as hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles and polio), helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives.
“At Pfizer, science is at the centre of everything we do and now more than ever we all appreciate and value the importance of science. In challenging times, we consistently come back to what we historically can rely on and we know throughout history the fundamental role science has played throughout society. We are confident that science will win in the global fight against this pandemic.”
Speaking about the inspiration for the exhibition which is installed in the windows of Science Gallery Dublin and podcast series, Gerard McHugh, Acting Director, Science Gallery Dublin said, “We’re living in unprecedented times, never before have so many worked at such speed in such a collaborative manner, and never before has there been such a focus on the work of scientists. Everyday there is new information about vaccines and viruses. It is great to have Pfizer’s support of this really important initiative which we hope many people across the country will freely access.”
Commenting on the research, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, said, “Pfizer’s new research sheds light on how science is viewed by the public and also reinforces the importance of STEM-led subjects in Ireland. Through the continued promotion of STEM, we will have a workforce that is well positioned to deal with the challenges of today and tomorrow. This pandemic has taught us that we must be prepared for the next unknown and equally how we all turn to science in times of uncertainty. This initiative from Pfizer and Science Gallery Dublin follows-on from our recent Science Week initiative which is a national celebration of science, technology and engineering.”
To find out more about Speed of Science, please visit dublin.sciencegallery.com for more information.