Gender inequality and the lack of gender development are major problems in developing countries. Neoclassical economics has generally argued that economic development will greatly enhance gender development. However, more recent work has emphasized the role of institutions. In this paper, a distinction is made between malleable institutions and those that change only over long periods of time. Empirical estimations of the impacts of economic development, malleable institutions, and hard-to-change institutions on gender development are carried out. The results indicate that both economic development and reform of malleable institutions are important determinants of relative gender performance. However, non-malleable institutions and cultural practices limit the impact that reform and economic development can have on relative gender performance.