Is the Good Ol’ Boy Network Just a Myth?

The following are a few hypothetical (not really) life stories related to human resources, being a woman in what is still in some circles ‘a man’s world’ and organizational behavior.

At the end of each story, I challenge you to put yourself in the position of anyone in this story and comment on whether or not you think the “good ol’ boy” network is a myth or has a touch of reality. There are no right or wrong answers.

Have fun!

A fully qualified female non-commissioned officer applies for a commissioned officer position within a department for which she is the only female. The department sits just outside the main office area of the control tower for a huge contingency of male pilots who currently fly with other male co-pilots due to the aircraft type. Women are not allowed to fly this type of aircraft. The department is made up of 2 long term male non-commissioned officers, 1 male commissioned officer, and 1 female non-commissioned officer who works as an administrative assistant – and also happens to be the applicant.

In the building, friendships are strong, male dominated communications with a tint of sexual harassment are common place, and a layoff of the co-pilots is pending due to the base switching to more modern solo piloted aircraft. The position is filled with a male co-pilot who would have lost his job had this position not been available due to the aircraft switch.

Myth or reality?

A fully qualified female civilian employee has an idea to promote HR related services to members of the organization that will improve efficiency and effectiveness of their operations while generating revenue for her own department. She has the support of her boss and together they pitch the idea to the company attorney to minimize organizational risk and ask for professional advice.

The attorney has been long time college buddies with the CEO and other members of the organization including those on the board of directors. This attorney also has the qualifications to offer the same services for a fee from his company. The idea is not approved by the CEO but later shows up as a service outreach of the company who employees the attorney.

Myth or reality?

A small independent contract offers HR related services to a governmental entity that is managed by a former small town business man who had previously served in a political position before his long tenured private career. The independent contractor develops an idea to cut costs for the client who had previously mentioned not having a budget at all for the services sought. The idea is shut down and the independent contractor is told they are moving in a different direction and a formal proposal would not be necessary. Later, the client announces a contract to be approved that is over twice what the independent contractor was going to charge for the same services they were previously told were moving a different direction.

The winning contract has had many past dealings with the decision makers as well as those around closest to him and in other positions across the state. Come to find out there were several other big players in the bidding process that were much larger and had connections both within that organization as well as within the larger organization.

What did you think? Is the “good ol’ boy” network a myth or is there a touch of reality?

Photo credit iStockPhoto

About the Author

Donna Rogers, SPHR

Donna is Founder and CEO of Rogers HR Consulting. She has a Master’s in human resources development from UIUC, a Bachelor’s in Public Relations from ISU and two associate degrees in Information Management and Pre-Business Administration. She has maintained a senior HR certification since 2001 and earned two additional HR certifications as late as 2019. She regularly delivers numerous presentations among professionals at meetings, seminars, and conferences locally, nationally, and internationally. She is on Twitter as @RogershrConsult



It’s still a reality. One of the best ways for them to control a bunch of women is to get them competing against each other. I think a rule may be never to raise your voice against another man, but against a woman is fine.


I’d like to think it’s a reality that is slowly but surely fading into non existence.
Come to think of it, would be interesting to have a Good Ol’ gals network.


I think this is very much a reality but the extent to which it happens truly depends on the organization and their culutre. Many organizations are beginning to make cultural shifts so hopefully these situations will be much fewer in the future!

Cindy Morton-Ferreira

I believe the working world is still faced with the REALITY of the good old boys club.I have been working for 20 years and have during this period of time been subjected to the good ol boys club in many aspects of my career. I am a facilitator of strategic events and have experienced the boys wanting to demonstrate their male dominance in that environment. I facilitated an event for a Woman’s magazine about Entrepreneurship and found that the men did business together with immediate effect, whereas the woman, where slow and shy to share of themselves. During my tenure recently at a corporate, I was subject to that in subtle ways and did a test, where I produced a strategy that was not accepted under my name, however when submitted under the name of a male colleague, it was accepted and implemented and gained huge return on investment. So the myth is still a REALITY in many ways…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *