Van Gent attended both MAVO and HAVO in Arnhem and attended the Social Academy. During and after her studies Van Gent worked as check out clerk, clean lady and baby sitter and was active in the youthwing of the Pacifist Socialist Party, the PSJG. Between 1982 and 1985 she worked for the Groningen Housing agency as social adviso. Between 1985 and 1994 she was member of the Groningen municipal council, first for the Pacifist Socialist Party (PSP) and since 1991 later for the GreenLeft in which the PSP merged. Since 1990 she was chair of the GreenLeft parliamentary party. During this period was member of the party council of the PSP and the Greenleft. In 1993 she was candidate top candidate for national GreenLeft list, but she failed to enter the second round of voting. Between 1994 and 1998 Van Gent worked as the North Netherlands-coordinator of the FNV labour union.
Van Gent focuses on two major themes: solidarity, including housing, social policy, employment, regional and economic policy, and durability, including agriculture, nature and animal rights. Van Gent has voted against the GreenLeft parliamentary party on several important issues: she voted against the marriage of Willem Alexander and Máxima Zorreguieta, because she is a republican and she spoke out against the GreenLeft's support for the invasion of Afghanistan. Van Gent iniated several legislative programs, concerning legal protection for whistle blowers, housing subsidies for students and constitutional protection of animal welfare.