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.
Since we announced our Girls In STEM Mentorship Program two months ago, we have received an overwhelming response from a community that believes this is as important as we do.
Over 1,000 girls have applied to be mentored and more than 300 women scientists have stepped forward to mentor them. With a turnout like this, we know girls' passion for STEM is there. But, while women make up 50 percent of the U.S. population, only 24 percent of the STEM workforce are female.
We want to see that change.
In the past week, we have identified five incredible mentor-mentee pairs representing various areas of STEM to spotlight for our program's kick-off. As we follow them through their mentorship experiences, we'll explore STEM careers, what role education plays in the development of female STEM leaders, and what mentors should know about aiding the next generation.
Join us in starting a dialogue around what it takes to get girls to succeed in STEM, as well as what it takes to be a mentor.
We're thrilled to introduce you to 10 amazing women and the science fields we'll be exploring with them:
Cheryl Platz is a user experience designer currently working for Microsoft in their Server & Tools division. Before that, she spent four years in the video game industry, shipping over half a dozen games on multiple platforms and worked for Walt Disney World as an interface designer.
Janet Cheung is a college sophomore with a desire to learn more about Walt Disney and their imagineering projects. Robotics, nanotechnology and virtual reality interest her the most.
Cheryl and Janet will be learning about user experience and working on a user interface design project.
Alaina Henry is a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow who works at the Goddard Space Flight Center. She wants to understand how galaxies form and evolve over cosmic time.
Ashley Denney is a college junior and planning to go to graduate school for her PhD in physics or astrophysics. Her hope is to work as a research astrophysicist or cosmologist at NASA or another research institution and ultimately become an astronaut or one of the first humans on Mars.
Alaina and Ashley will take a trip to the Goddard Space Flight Center together and talk about the process of applying to grad school.
Emilie Reas is a neuroscience PhD student with a background in biology, psychology and chemistry and currently studies human memory with fMRI. She has a long-running fascination with how the brain and the mind work.
Vi Nguyen is a high school junior who is most interested in neuroscience (specifically the biochemical side of it, how chemical interactions can impact our minds and the physiology of the brain, and how our brains work to give us conscious thought) and physics -- and has an amazing science tumblr.
Emilie and Vi will use their strengths for a project involving mapping the brain.
Autumn Hoffmeier has been working on sustainable architectural based projects in Chicago, Illinois for the past seven years. In that time she's attained a post graduate degree in architecture that was focused on sustainable studies. She's fascinated by what it truly means to be "green" and enjoys helping others find direction in their life and careers.
Sheryl Owen is a junior at Syracuse University studying civil engineering. Her career goal is to become a LEED certified professional engineer. She's interested in the intersection of architecture and sustainable/green design and believes that something needs to be done to stop global warming so that humans can thrive responsibly.
Autumn and Sheryl will work on a joint project to create a small, practical sustainable structure.
Kate Ziegler is a Post-Doctoral Fellow and adjunct faculty as well as owner of her own geologic consulting firm. She also spent time as a vertebrate paleontologist, which incorporates both geology and biology/evolution/physiology -- and wanted to be a Triceratops when she was three (even though her parents convinced her that it wasn't really an option).
Amy Atwater is a college senior who runs her own blog about women in paleontology. She works in the Paleontology lab on campus and is writing her senior thesis on paleo-conservation biology and Eocene North American primate evolution and extinction.
Kate and Amy have agreed to participate in a Google+ Hangout with us next Wednesday at 11 a.m. EST. Watch the conversation unfold here.
You'll be hearing more from these pairs in the next few months through blog posts, G+ hangouts and Twitter chats as we follow them through the mentorship process and learn more about who they are and what they do. Follow our STEM exploration on Twitter with the hashtag, #hpstem.
Please note that these five pairs are only spotlighted mentorship duos, and we will continue to build the community around education and mentoring in STEM. Stay tuned to our live blog for updates on this and additional information for applicants and community members, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in taking part of this program as a mentor, please apply here. Mentee applications are currently closed.