That's because almost no women own Bitcoins at all, according to a new online survey of Bitcoin users by Simulacrum, the blog of Lui Smyth, a researcher at University College London. About 93 percent of the crypto-currency's users are male, according to Smyth's latest survey, which is still ongoing. This survey hasn't yet hit a representative sample, but last year's survey of 1,000 users came up with a 95-percent male demographic.
The results suggest that Bitcoin has alienated women just as much as the two worlds it inhabits, finance and technology. This is good news for women, who have avoided a string of Bitcoin debacles, including the collapse of Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest Bitcoin exchange, which recently admitted it had lost more than $400 million worth of Bitcoins, maybe forever, to theft. But it is probably not healthy for Bitcoin.
The average Bitcoin user is "a 32.1 year old libertarian male," according to the 2013 survey, with 44 percent of users describing themselves as "libertarian/anarcho-capitalist." And libertarian/anarcho-capitalists tend to be white men, other studies have shown.
Smyth's findings gibe with anecdotal evidence from around the Interwebz, ThinkProgress noted on Thursday. Fred Ehrsam, the co-founder of Coinbase, a virtual-currency wallet company, told a New York Department of Financial Services panel in January that his user base had been "93 percent male" and young -- a "typical early tech-adopter crowd," he called it -- six to eight months earlier, though he said it had gotten a little less male and young lately.
The evidence also suggests these users are not only men, but also mostly white and wealthy, TP's Annie-Rose Strasser wrote.
"In order to buy the sometimes wildly expensive currency, Bitcoin users need to be wealthy. And they can afford to put their wealth into a currency that isn’t widely accepted or even recognized," wrote Strasser. "Plus, they move easily through the financial and digital space — the process of 'mining' bitcoins demands it.... The sum total of these things — advanced knowledge of computer science, wealth — are also markings of the young, white male."
Even the rare woman Bitcoin enthusiast Arianna Simpson -- who has displayed some anarcho-capitalist tendencies herself, warning of the risks of hyperinflation from the "irresponsible printing of money" by governments -- described being physically groped, hit on and gawked at like "a unicorn" at a recent Bitcoin meetup where she was one of only two women in a sea of dudes.
If Simpson's experience is any guide, then Bitcoin might possibly be even more hostile to women than finance or technology, as unlikely as that sounds.
"If women fail to take an active interest in Bitcoin now, when it is still in its infancy and its potential is largely untapped, we will have yet another sector in which the gender is underrepresented and trailing," Simpson wrote.
Of course, unless and until Bitcoin gets its act together, with more regulation and safeguards for customers, staying far away from Bitcoin might be the smart thing to do. Then again, maybe getting more women involved in Bitcoin is what Bitcoin needs to get its act together.