Neural-network quantum states have been successfully used to study a variety of lattice and continuous-space problems. Despite a great deal of general methodological developments, representing fermionic matter is however still early research activity. Here we present an extension of neural-network quantum states to model interacting fermionic problems. Borrowing techniques from quantum simulation, we directly map fermionic degrees of freedom to spin ones, and then use neural-network quantum states to perform electronic structure calculations. For several diatomic molecules in a minimal basis set, we benchmark our approach against widely used coupled cluster methods, as well as many-body variational states. On some test molecules, we systematically improve upon coupled cluster methods and Jastrow wave functions, reaching chemical accuracy or better. Finally, we discuss routes for future developments and improvements of the methods presented.