In spite of growing rates of participation in new venture creation among women, women remain substantially underrepresented among entrepreneurs in Western countries and in Scandinavian countries in particular. Research has found more similarities than differences between the male and female entrepreneurs. However, these findings do not explain the gender differences in the propensity to take part in entrepreneurial activities. The factors explaining the low number of women taking steps to become entrepreneurs have to be found in the phases before these steps are possibly taken, i.e. among the general population.

This study investigates the antecedents to business start-ups among women and men based on the Norwegian GEM data-base on entrepreneurial activity in the general population. Gender differences regarding three milestones of the entrepreneurial process are explored; intention (latent entrepreneurs), planning (nascent entrepreneurs) and new business start-up (infant entrepreneurs). Entrepreneurial behaviour is seen as an intentional process (Krueger and Carsrud, 1993) which is influenced by factors such as the individuals’ self efficacy and attitudes towards risk. Gender differences in these factors and potential consequences for the propensity to engage in entrepreneurial processes are investigated.