Using the insights of the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, this article considers the role of the science department chair in the reform of school science education. Using Bourdieu’s ‘thinking tools’ of ‘field’, ‘habitus’ and ‘capital’, we case study the work of two teachers who both actively pursue the teaching and learning of science as inquiry. One teacher, Dan, has been a department chair since 2000, and has actively encouraged his department to embrace science as inquiry. The other teacher, Leslie, worked for one year in Dan’s department before being transferred to another school where science teaching continues to be more traditional. Our work suggests that there are three crucial considerations for chairs seeking to lead the reform of science teaching within their department. The first of these is the development of a reform‐minded habitus, as this appears to be foundational to the capital that can be expended in the leadership of reform. The second is an understanding of how to wield power and position in the promotion of reform. The third is the capacity to operate simultaneously and strategically within, and across, two fields; the departmental field and the larger science education field. This involves downplaying administrative logics, and foregrounding more inquiry‐focused logics as a vehicle to challenge traditional science‐teaching dispositions—the latter being typically dominated by concerns about curriculum ‘coverage’.