Women are under-represented in commuter cycling in England and Wales. Consequently, women miss out on the health benefits of active commuting over distances where walking is less practical. Similarly, where cycling could replace motorised forms of transport, society is missing out on the wider health benefits associated with reductions in air pollution, road noise and social severance. This paper uses aggregate (ecological) models to investigate the reasons behind the gender gap in cycling. The relative attractiveness of cycling in different areas is described using a set of 17 determinants of commuter cycling mode share: distance, population density, cycle paths, cycle lanes, traffic density, hilliness, temperature, sun, rain, wind, wealth, lower social status, children, green votes, bicycle performance, traffic risk and parking costs. The correlation between these determinants and census-recorded cycling mode share is examined in logit models for commuters who work 2-5 km from home. The models explain a large share of the variation in cycling levels. There are small but significant differences in the importance of individual determinants between men and women. However, the gender gap is largely explained by a differentiated response to the relative attractiveness of an area for cycling, the sum effect of all determinants. The ratio of male to female cycling rates is greatest in areas that are less attractive for cycling, whereas in the most attractive areas the ratio approaches parity. On average, women require a more conducive environment for cycling than men. Since the typical environment in England and Wales is not conducive for cycling, women are under-represented in commuter cycling rates and miss out on the health dividend. The results suggest improvements to the cycling environment may be moderated by the existing attractiveness of the environment for cycling, with improvements in less attractive areas having a smaller absolute effect on cycling rates.