This study examines the impact that selected institutional factors have upon the entrepreneurial activity of women and men in rural areas. To do so, the results of the Adult Population Survey from the Spanish Global Entrepreneurship Monitor for the year 2004 have been used in a rare events logit regression model where rurality and sex have been introduced as interaction terms in order to identify any statistically significant distinctions of the impact of the selected independent variables upon rural women's entrepreneurial activity. The results indicate that compared to rural men, Spanish rural women tend to be less involved in entrepreneurial activities and are less optimistic about their abilities as entrepreneurs, although the fear of failure is not a significant impediment of their involvement in entrepreneurship. © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 European Society for Rural Sociology.