The ways in which women deliberately press back against practices of oppression and demonstrate agency in higher education institutions are highly contextual and culturally bound. The formal and informal networks that women develop and maintain are important elements of generating agency and enhancing women’s access to, and opportunities for, leadership. This article presents a case study from research that explored women’s leadership experiences in a higher education context in the Pacific Islands – Papua New Guinea. Situated within a feminist poststructural methodology, the research examined women’s experiences of leadership and considered aspects that influenced women’s access to formal leadership roles. The findings illustrated that the women faced numerous barriers to formal leadership opportunities. A range of culturally and contextually located approaches supported women to demonstrate agency with regard to their own leadership development and practice. This research highlighted the importance of considering the relationship between networks and agency and the impact of associated cultural and contextual practices within organisations, providing insights into the culturally located complexities of women’s leadership in higher education contexts.