Against the backdrop of spirited public and academic discourse about women’s low visibility in corporate leadership positions, we examine board gender diversity’s influence on strategic change in firms. Viewing gender as an institutionalized system of social beliefs, the article makes two related arguments. First, it contends that because of gender status difference and bias, more gender diversity will result in less strategic change as a board’s decisions begin to follow the stance of a smaller but relatively more influential ‘boy’s club’. Second, it contends that should a board have a female chair as opposed to a male chair, a recession in the shadow of gender stereotypes will reverse board gender diversity’s negative effect on strategic change. Instrumental variables analysis of data from Fortune 500 firms supports the theory. We discuss the study’s contributions and implications.