I felt the same way initially but my boss really helped us to showcase the value we bring to our clients. She met with all the other leaders and showed market research papers on usability that created a new level of respect for us.
Hope this helps.
Thanks a lot John for your inputs.
That is such a broad question an impossible to answer at such a high level. The simple answer is yes and no.
It completely depends on the organization in which one works. Design in general is often misunderstood. Those who manage us don't understand the depth and intricacy that goes in to creating what we do. They have never studied or participated our art and therefore will never understand the time and dedication that goes into it.
If we are lucky enough to work at a design driven company, then yes, we are. If we are lucky enough to work at a small enough company that we have a voice, then yes, we are.
It really comes down to the fact that you are an ambassador for the entire design community and you have the power to make yourself respected by doing amazing work and by communicating how it is exactly that you do what you do.