The participation of women in top-level corporate boards or rather the lack of it is subject to intense public debate. Countries are considering legally binding quotas to increase the share of women on boards or have already implemented such rules. While research on board diversity suggests positive effects on corporate governance and even firm performance, the mechanisms through which these benefits materialize remain mostly speculative. This study focuses on boards of directors in a large sample of listed companies in 15 European countries over the period 2003-2011 and finds that female representation on firms’ non-executive boards is associated with reduced turnover and an increase in tenure of executive board members. An increase in the performance-turnover sensitivity of executives suggests that this effect may be explained by better monitoring practices rather than by less effective control or a “taste for continuity”.