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Should I take this as an insult from my PI/supervisor?

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2 replies to this topic

#1 Natalia KM

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Posted 02 November 2018 - 12:39 AM

I am a female postdoc just finished my PhD in UK and moved to USA for my postdoc at a highly prestigious institution. Although I have been going through major bouts of impostor syndrome, I have had some really great data since I started.

My PI is very very busy and I rarely see him. But I feel he thinks Im stupid. In my recent meeting with him after I showed him some great data, he said - there we go, she comes with her golden glow and does it again. Then he flustered a little and goes - do you know what golden glow means??. I said no I dont actually. Then he quickly says oh its an American term for luck.

I have never heard of the term golden glow meaning luck. I initially laughed at what he said but then when I left the meeting, I felt offended that he attributed all my data to luck or my golden glow.

Do I have a right to be offended here? Should I raise this to my boss? Please advise.

Edited by Natalia KM, 02 November 2018 - 12:44 AM.

#2 OldCloner



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Posted 02 November 2018 - 05:54 AM

Hmm…As an American, I don’t think “golden glow” is the same as “luck,” not in that context. I can’t see into this guy’s head, but it sounds a little more as if he is accusing you of being arrogant or superior, and it could be that he is a bit jealous of your early success, which he is, yes, attributing to “good luck.” It was an inappropriate thing for him to say, and likely he realized it and tried to defuse the situation by giving you a slightly alternate interpretation of what he said. That in itself was a bit insulting, in my opinion.


As to what to do about it, I would first wait a while and see if this becomes a pattern in his behavior. How long have you been there, and is this the first time you have felt put-down? Does he treat other post-docs/students this way? Any other female post-docs in particular? Hopefully, he scared himself a bit (got flustered) and might be more careful in what he says next time. In American universities there are policies against harassment, and he should be worried about triggering an official complaint. If he makes similar comments again, or especially, starts saying them in front of other postdocs, students, or faculty, then it is time to have a quiet private meeting it before it gets any worse. If that doesn’t help, the last resort in an official complaint.


Universities also have counseling services for students having problems including "imposter syndrome." They are confidential and it is worth talking to someone and see if they can help you deal with false feelings of inadequacy.

Edited by OldCloner, 02 November 2018 - 05:59 AM.

#3 mdfenko


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Posted 02 November 2018 - 10:38 AM

according to The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English, "golden glow" is a luminous daub used by card cheats to mark cards.


you can take that as you see fit.

talent does what it can
genius does what it must
i used to do what i got paid to do

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