Because of rapid changes in the circumpolar high Arctic and their dramatic ecological consequences, the polar region is moving from the margin to the centre of global consciousness. From a natural-science perspective the area is viewed as a laboratory for research on climate change, sustainability and the management of biodiversity, while there has been an expansion of social-science research in such fields as geopolitics, indigenous cultures and tourism developments in the high Arctic. At the same time, there is a growing research interest in the history of the Arctic and polar exploration, and in the Arctic as discursive formation. However, with a very few exceptions, there has been little extended emphasis on gender in this research. Moreover, there has been practically no communication between different disciplinary approaches to studies of the Arctic. Finally, most of the existing research has been national or regional in orientation. The CircumPolar Gender Network, which will work toward a grant application targeted to the Norwegian Polar Research Programme, is based on the conviction that gender is one of the keys to an understanding of both polar history and the contemporary cultural and natural processes in which the circumpolar Arctic plays an important part. We believe that far-reaching interdisciplinarity - between the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities - is necessary in order to begin to unravel some of the complexities of the polar region, locally as well as globally, and we are convinced that an international dimension will both sharpen the research questions and make them more legitimate, in a time of globalisation and transnational polar interest. At the same time, however, we wish to acknowledge national and regional differences and in particular investigate the fuzzy edges of concepts and terms that on the face of it appear to refer to the same thing.