Papua New Guinea moved to a limited preferential voting (LPV) system prior to the 2007 national election. The shift from first‐past‐the‐post to preferential voting was intended to encourage the election of candidates with broader mandates from constituents; to reverse the trend of increasing election‐related violence; and to lead to more cooperation between candidates and voting blocs. It was also anticipated that instituting a preferential system would increase the electoral chances of female candidates. This article looks at the impact of the LPV system on women’s participation and performances as candidates in Papua New Guinean elections since 2002, focusing in particular on the three general elections in 2007, 2012 and 2017. It argues that the benefits of LPV have not outweighed its costs, at least in terms of women’s participation and representation. This demonstrates the limits of institutional reform of this nature in tackling deep‐seated issues relating to political culture.