A short history, excerpted from the Caucus archives (circa 1979):
Founded in 1971, the National Women's Political Caucus is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to increasing women's participation in all areas of political and public life -- as elected and appointed officials, as delegates to national party conventions, as judges in the state and federal courts, and as lobbyists, voters and campaign organizers. With state and local affiliates, our member ship today spans across the nation.
Our founders include such prominent women as Gloria Steinem, author, lecturer and founding editor of Ms. magazine; former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; former Congresswoman and current president of Women USA Bella Abzug; Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women; Jill Ruckelshaus, U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner; Ann Lewis, Political Director of the Democratic National Committee; Elly Peterson, former vice-chair of the Republican National Committee; LaDonna Harris, Indian rights leader; Liz Carpenter, author, lecturer and former press secretary to Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson; and Eleanor Holmes Norton, former chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Spurred by Congress' failure to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970, these women believed legal, economic and social equity would come about only when women were equally represented among the nation's political decision-makers. Their faith that women's interests would best be served by women lawmakers has been confirmed time and time again, as women in Congress, state legislatures and city halls across the country have introduced, fought for and won legislation to eliminate sex discrimination and meet women's changing needs.
You can read more about the Caucus here: The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.
Over 45 years:
In 1971, women numbered just 363 (4.7%) of state legislators.
As of 2016, women number 1,805 (24.4%) of state legislators.
In 1971, there were only 7 women mayors of cities over 30,000 (1%).
As of 2016, there are 263 women mayors of those cities (18.9%).
And while there were only 15 women members of Congress in 1971,
there are now 104 (19.4%)