Ann Friedman assesses how far they've come lately:

The female narrative had a resurgence in November, when America’s election results prompted descriptions of 2012 as another "year of the woman" — a reference to the 1992 election in which four women were elected to the Senate and 24 to the House. Following a campaign season in which female voters were alternately courted and alienated (R.I.P. Republican "rape caucus"), America’s 113th Congress will theoretically be the most representative of American women in history, with twenty serving in the Senate and 81 in the House. While this progress is exciting, it’s worth noting that women are still 30 Senators and more than 130 Representatives away from parity. Moreover, just because more women are serving doesn’t mean they have political clout: Not a single House committee will be chaired by a woman in 2013. (Down from a single female chair in 2012.)