If you're a woman, you're going to have to wade through some sexist bull, no matter where you are in your career. Even if you're at the top of your game, like Taylor Swift. Swift received Billboard's Woman of the Decade award on her 30th birthday, and did not hold back in her 15-minute acceptance speech. She used the opportunity to signal boost other female artists, call out institutionalized sexism in the music industry, and describe what toxic male privilege looks like.


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Women might face more obstacles and double standards. But ultimately challenges are what we make of them, and more obstacles mean more opportunity for growth. It's that old case of "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," or in Swift's case, makes you the woman of the decade. "Female artists in music have dominated this decade in growth, streaming, record and ticket sales, and critical acclaim. So why are we doing so well? Because we have to grow fast, we have to work this hard, we have to prove that we deserve this, and we have to top our last achievements," she said in her speech.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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