Women participate in cultural activities such as art, music, and literature at higher rates than men, yet as creative professionals, their career achievements tend to lag behind men’s. Scholars interested in this puzzle have largely focused on gender bias in the evaluations of audiences and other gatekeepers. In this paper, we identify differences in the relative novelty of creative products, which we argue are shaped by the conditions under which male and female artists produce their work. Using an exhaustive dataset comprising over 250,000 songs produced and released between 1955 and 2000, we construct an algorithmically-derived measure of musical novelty and investigate some of the structural and cultural factors that may differentially affect creative output. We find no mean difference between men and women in terms of the novelty of songs they produce, but after controlling for the size and gender composition of an artist’s collaboration network, as well as the gender composition of their primary genre, we find that female artists create significantly more novel songs than their male counterparts. These results suggest that social factors—rather than differences in raw ability—are responsible for gender disparities in creative production.