Bitcoin is having a pretty good week—rising more than 11% and breaking above $9,000 for the first time in more than a month. But for Bitcoin’s price to really take off, there’s a missing part of the equation that may hold the key.
While Bitcoin surged last year along with other cryptocurrencies, much of that more than 20-fold rise was driven by men. One analysis of Google searches found that 95% of people Googling “Bitcoin” were male, while only 5% were female. The trend seems to carry across to other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum: According to another recent survey, just 4% of Ethereum traders are women.
“I feel like we’re missing out on this major opportunity to market to 51% of the population, to 60% of the wealth and to 80% of consumer spending,” says Meltem Demirors, founder of Athena Capital, referring to the world’s female population, who control the majority of American wealth and household spending.
“One of the things that really drew me to the cryptocurrency ecosystem early on in 2012, 2013, when I started getting involved in Bitcoin, was the fact that it was a true intellectual meritocracy,” Demirors says on the latest episode of “Balancing the Ledger,” Fortune’s show about the intersection of finance and technology. “And I think the question is, can we use our influence…to ensure that 51% of the world’s population isn’t missing out on this massive wealth-creation event.”
Although the price of Bitcoin has lost more than half of its value since peaking in December at nearly $20,000, the cryptocurrency has still made many investors wealthy. And while Demirors counts herself “fortunate” to have benefited from the boom, she and other advocates are disturbed by the possibility that Bitcoin’s growth may disproportionately enrich men.
Indeed, some of the loudest advocates of Bitcoin are male, from John Pfeffer of Pfeffer Capital, who is betting that Bitcoin’s price could one day reach $700,000, to venture capitalist Tim Draper, who predicted recently that Bitcoin would hit $250,000 by 2022.
Alexia Bonatsos, former co-editor of TechCrunch, meanwhile, implored on Twitter in January: “Women, consider crypto. Otherwise the men are going to get all the wealth again.”