I just read Elli's post about wanting to feel like a "real" scientist and it really hit home for me. Her situation is quite different than mine- she is just starting graduate school and I am beginning the process for tenure. However, I still feel that I struggle to be taken seriously and to be seen as a "real" scientist. I am almost 37 years old, yet am frequently mistaken for a graduate student. While, I do enjoy looking young, it can also be a disadvantage.
I was recently introduced to a professor emeritus in another department and he asked "are you a grad student?" My colleague had introduced me as someone he was collaborating with, yet I was still assumed to be a student. At a conference I recently attended, I was mistaken for a grad student by current grad students! The frequency of this misidentification has recently caused me to question other aspects of myself: Do I come across as unprofessional? Does my work seem too basic? I try to convince myself that it's just my "youthful appearance", but can't help but wonder.
The other issue that I face is that I am in a discipline where some people are social scientists and others are natural scientists. While my social science colleagues no doubt see me as a scientist, there are others who do not. My research has always been scientific, but I do occasionally feel like a "second class" scientist.
To address the scientiae carnival theme of "how we are hungry", I'd have to say that I am hungry to be taken seriously: in my discipline, in my university, in my college, and even in my own department. I am in a technical, natural science part of my discipline in a male-dominated department, so this is often a tall order. I have to wonder if things will change when I get tenure? Given the experiences of my female senior colleagues, I have to doubt it. Which brings me to my final point: If I were male, would I have these same problems?