Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.
If you asked a 14-year-old me to describe a woman in STEM, I probably would have described someone like Ms. Frizzle of The Magic School Bus. Red-headed. Wacky. Inquisitive.
In my opinion, she was the most exciting and interesting female role model we had in science. But, still, she didn't exactly represent me. For starters, I was brunette, introverted, practical. And, those crazy school trips, while entertaining and educational, just weren't real.
I needed a real woman, someone like me, that I could look up to.
Unfortunately, I never found that woman and ventured more towards artistic fields like journalism and history. But some girls did find that mentor, and they have now become women themselves, eager to support the next generation.
That's why we recently created a program to help align female students interested in STEM topics with women in their fields. And the response has been amazing. So many science, tech and math lovers have contacted us looking for support.
As we continue to discuss what it means to be a girl interested in the STEM fields, we wanted to know straight from the students what they look for in a mentor -- so we asked them, "What does it mean to be a woman in STEM?" and they replied eagerly, with many smart and insightful answers.
In my eyes, to be a forensic scientist is to be a hero in society. I think that scientists are amazing people that can change people's lives. I think that women in STEM are women that make a difference in other people's lives and that are great role models for young girls. Women in STEM empower young girls to go down a better path in life.
Usually society doesn't think of women as scientists. The women in STEM are doing a good thing to inspire young women to help them with achieving their goals.
Women in STEM are pioneers. They are trekking in uncharted waters and loving what they do. They go against the grain and emerging just as successful as they gender counterparts. They are my role models.
I know that there are not a lot of women in STEM fields; I think those that are are probably more confident than average, as most girls tend to doubt their mathematical abilities.
Women in STEM are people who are unafraid of challenges and want a life of innovation.
When there's a lack of women, there's a lack of female input, and a chance that as a country, we're not performing at our highest potential.
Perceptions? A woman in STEM is like a man in STEM except the woman identifies as female while the man identifies as male.
Women scientists and engineers have always been inspiring to me because it makes me realize that I can one day be where they are, even in a field composed of a majority of men, and that my gender makes no difference in how well I can do with my career.
The women in STEM have embraced their dreams and proven to society that women are just as capable in the fields of science, math, technology, and engineering. My perception of them is that they are brilliant people who have taken this step not just to benefit them but also to help other young girls like me who would hope to in the future be a part of one of these fields.
I believe women in STEM aren't any different than men in STEM - there are just less of them, most likely due to difference in societal expectations.
In my eyes gender doesn't effect mentality or skills. An engineer is someone who is innovative and open to new ideas.
Currently, I think that societal standards put a lot of pressure on women in STEM so that those who do manage to succeed are the most passionate and hard working people in the field.
Women in STEM are women who choose to fight past the opinions of others and do exactly what they feel is right for them. They have recognized the roles they can play in these fields and how their intelligence, capability and drive qualifies them to play these roles. The one word I would choose to describe women in STEM according to my perception of them is tenacious.
I don't think that an engineer can be defined by gender. It is defined by those who are capable of critically thinking their way out of a problem.
What do you think it means to be a woman -- or man -- in STEM? Tell us in the comments below as we explore all of the possibilities in these fields.