Ah, sorry, astro, I was reading too fast and took your phrase <,women go from being fairly central and more or less co-equal >> out of context. Sorry for the off-track comment.
Basically, I’ll agree with 'possum, that it wasn’t just female gods who were dropped, but male gods as well.
For cultures with multiple deities, it made sense to think of masculine and feminine, thus a King and Queen of the gods or whatever. The gods are part of nature, and since life in nature is divided into male and female, so are the gods. They can reproduce, like the rest of nature. Reproductive power is seen as being feminine, and associated with the feminine god(s); the earth itself produces grain and fruit and so forth and so it seen as the essential female god, or “sacred feminine” as you put it. The main male god is thus usually the opposite of the earth, and associated with the sky or heavens.
Despite the archaeological theories of how the Hebrew notion of God may have evolved from Canaanite gods such as El, the Hebrew Bible depicts a very different perspective. The monotheistic God of the early Hebrews (say, around 1200 to 1000 BC) is not part of nature, but is above nature and creates nature. He does not reproduce and is not divided into male and female parts.
The monotheistic God is associated with the top of mountains and with the sky, above the earth (that is, above nature.) It is therefore a logical evolution from polytheism that a single God would be seen as primarily masculine. However, He was not only masculine, but has both masculine and feminine attributes. Yes, the attributes of strength and power and the view of God as a Warrior are certainly the masculine aspects, but the Shekhinah (the indwelling imminent presence of God) is feminine.
Now, later on, Christianity reverses much of this, since the Christian God does reproduce (has a Son through some magical impregnation). The pagans to whom the early Christians preached were quite comfortable with the idea of gods having sex with mortal women to reproduce; the Hebrews were not comfortable with that idea and rejected Christian theology. Once you have a monotheistic God who impregnates a mortal woman, you’ve got a masculine God and the feminine component is conveniently dropped.
And as society became more urban and heavily masculine-dominated (compared to the nomadic and agrarian society of pre-Hellenistic Hebrews), the concept of God became more masculine.
At bottom, I don’t tie this development to “historical environment” (if you mean sociology, economics, etc) but more to the philosophic or theological underpinings.