Although it is well-established that female participation in study abroad programmes is higher than the male participation, less is known about how this gap has changed over time. Using student-level data from the nationally representative surveys of three European countries (France, Germany and Italy), this paper begins by examining changes in the relationship between gender and participation in study abroad programmes between the beginning of the 2000s and the mid-2010s. It then explores to what extent these changes can be explained by different characteristics of men and women. The results suggest that in none of the countries there is evidence of a systematic decline over time in women's over-representation in study abroad programmes. However, the size of the gap is consistently significantly reduced (or even the sign of the gap reversed) once gender differences in observable traits are accounted for. Field of study and academic performance are important factors contributing to the gender disparity in study abroad.