Worldwide there are less female than male entrepreneurs, whether measured in terms of newly founded or established firms. Not only are women less likely to be involved in entrepreneurship, they also tend to have a lower preference for entrepreneurship. The lower willingness of women to become entrepreneur may – at least partially – explain their lower activity rates. The distinction between preferences and actual involvement is important if entrepreneurship is seen as a multi-layered process where each stage is influenced by different factors. This study investigates the determinants of the preference and engagement stage of entrepreneurship. Focus is on how gender influences the preference for entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial activity and the relationship between these two stages. Few studies have distinguished between the influence of gender on preferences and on actual involvement. Moreover, such studies tend to include gender in the analysis as dummy variable. This study aims at explaining the discrepancy in female and male entrepreneurial preferences and activity by investigating mediation, moderation and ‘direct’ effects of gender.