Now that women hold a record-high 20 seats in the Senate, Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., reflected to NPR on how Congress has changed in her decades in office.

"It was lonely in the House," Boxer said, "because there was an attitude back in the '80s that was not the attitude now." In addition to "humiliating" jokes by her male colleagues, she was not permitted to use the gym. Boxer wrote a jingle in protest: "Exercise, glamorize, where to go, will you advise? Can't everybody use your gym? ... Equal rights, we'll wear tights, let's avoid those macho fights."

Things were different in the '90s Senate though.

"By the time I got to the Senate, Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., had shaped them up over here," Boxer said. "They knew they better fall in line."