Thanks so much for the question! I think it had a lot to do with the atmosphere in Europe at the time. Especially in the18th and 19th century. Because of the strong importance placed on the proper place of women, there was less of an opportunity for women to learn art.
Art was more of a trade, fathers, uncles and friends of the family would teach kids at a very young age how to paint and draw and carry on the family skill. Which is one reason why there are more male artists, it was the family job, and men generally took jobs while women raised families. However there was a big role especially in the beginning of print making for women. Wives of artists, including the renaissance artist Durer ran print shops. They were responsible for the behind the scenes work of prints.
During the medieval and renaissance period there were a lot more women artists because convents provided women with education, freedom, and the financial ability to learn art. Convents created a lot of the religious art of the time including the bayeux tapestry, But with the protestant reformations many of these opportunities were lost.
In the 19th century’s the rise of the bourgeoise class allowed for more women to pursue art at a hobby, so artists like Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot were able to paint, raise their families and have enough money to spare. But with that being said there was a strong social idea that women should only be mothers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The surrealist and dada movements were really the turning point for female artists. The surrealists were against just about every oppressive social value at the time including the church, the family, oppression of women and other races. And women with like beliefs were able to speak up and be very influential members of the movement.
I guess my point is that patriarchy played a big role in the amount of female artists, but many great women artists were able to overcome the odds and get the education and skills to become great artists.