No. 3: Ruth Porat, Morgan Stanley

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Ruth Porat
EVP and Chief Financial Officer, Morgan Stanley

Long known as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, Ruth Porat has shown leadership lately on issues facing women in corporate America.

In her current role, which she's had since January 2010, Porat is credited with helping to see Morgan Stanley through the aftermath of the financial crisis. She was co-leader of a 39-executive team advising the U.S. Treasury Department on how to handle the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts, and in 2013 she was said to be on President Barack Obama's list of potential Treasury deputy secretary nominees — only to withdraw from consideration. (She reportedly cited improving conditions at Morgan Stanley and the acrimony of the confirmation process.) This year, Porat was named vice chairman of the influential Economic Club of New York, a post that had been held by the club's now-chairman Bill Dudley, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Porat, a mother of three, also gained attention this year for backing New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's push for a national paid family-leave law. And she's a kindred spirit of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, whose 2013 book, "Lean In," has influenced female business leaders to speak out on gender issues — though Porat has said leaning in isn't so simple when corporate higher-ups are pushing back.

In April at a Japan Society event in Manhattan, she noted that women hold only 15% of executive officer positions at Fortune 500 companies. Though the statistics are meaningfully better than they were 50 years ago, she said, "they're not where they should be, and, in fact, I would say they are an embarrassment."

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