Using a novel approach - examining independent women and comparing them with their
party counterparts - this article offers new insights on candidate emergence, recruitment and
election of women, within and beyond political parties. To-date, studies of gender, candidate
recruitment and institutions have concentrated on parties and party women. These studies
highlight the gendered aspects of party candidate recruitment and conclude that parties are
gate-keepers of women’s candidacy. This article finds that beyond party boundaries, the emergence and election of independent women is circumscribed by individual, institutional and political culture dynamics which have consequences for independent women’s candidacy. The independent route is no less gendered or more advantageous a pathway for women’s candidacy.