The Feminine Mystique is widely regarded as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century, and is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States. Futurist Alvin Toffler declared that it "pulled the trigger on history." Friedan received hundreds of letters from unhappy housewives after its publication, and she herself went on to help found, and become the first president of the National Organization for Women, an influential feminist organization.
By the year 2000, The Feminine Mystique had sold more than 3 million copies and had been translated into many foreign languages.
On February 22 and 23, 2013, a symposium titled React: The Feminine Mystique at 50, co-sponsored by The New School for Public Engagement and Parsons the New School for Design, was held. An accompanying exhibit titled REACT was also on display, consisting of twenty-five pieces of artwork responding to The Feminine Mystique.
Also in February 2013, a fiftieth-anniversary edition of The Feminine Mystique was published, with a new introduction by Gail Collins.
Also in 2013, to celebrate its centennial the U.S. Department of Labor created a list of over 100 Books that Shaped Work in America, which included The Feminine Mystique.  The Department of Labor later chose The Feminine Mystique as one of its top ten books from that list.
Also in 2013, The Feminine Mystique was discussed in Makers: Women Who Make America.
In 2014 the Betty Friedan Hometown Tribute committee won the Superior Achievement award in the special projects category for its 50th anniversary celebration of the publication of The Feminine Mystique.  They received the award from the Illinois State Historical Society.