About 30 women — lawyers, doctors and business owners among them — gathered in an office of a defense contractor in Hauppauge Friday afternoon to talk about a war many of them have been fighting for decades: a battle for equal pay and representation at the higher levels of corporate America.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- N.Y), was on hand to lead what was called a Long Island Women’s Economic Empowerment Roundtable. And to help empower the group Gillibrand offered a theme.

During World War II one symbol of America’s strength was Rosie the Riveter, a fictional woman whose picture in workclothes adorned the walls of defense factories to inspire women replacing the men who had gone to battle.

“We need the Rosie the Riveter of our generation,” Gillibrand said at the meeting at GSE Dynamics Inc., a manufacturer of parts for military airplanes and submarines.

“We do not have pay parity,” she said. “We do not have political parity. We are still fighting the battle our mothers and grandmothers fought.”

Attendees agreed, but how to get there was the question. And another question was why, even in the 21st century, such matters are still an issue.

Gillibrand said women earn only 78 cents compared to each dollar a man makes, that only 3 percent of the nation’s chief executive officers are women, and that when women start businesses they begin with eight times less capital than men do.