Anca Gheaus has a really nice paper up on her academia.edu website (I think you need to join, but it is easy and free) called “Three Cheers for the Token Woman”. She observes that lots of people feel uncomfortable, or think that something is wrong with, being the token woman (at a conference, as a contributor to a volume, etc), whereas many of those same people think that it is important that positive steps be taken to ensure that, for example, conferences and volumes not have exclusively male participants and contributors. Her discussion is not exactly philosophy-specific, but is written in a context of the Gendered Conference Campaign, which, if it works, should result in more women being invited to conferences that they would not have been invited to in the absence of positive self-conscious measures. Here is how she poses the central question:
Now imagine that you, a woman, are invited to speak in a conference whose organisers openly subscribe to the gendered conference campaign. The mere fact that some people decided to do something about women’s inclusion in the profession has of course not changed the profession overnight; you may still be one of the very few women around, whose presence is primarily meant to signal an intention to change things. In less happy cases, the organisers may be motivated by an intention to conform to mounting social expectations of female inclusion; often you cannot be sure whether this is the case. And you may not be taken as seriously as you would should you be a man. In these senses, you are a token woman.
Moreover, you know that in the absence of the GCC you would probably not have been invited. Someone else – most likely a man – would now be speaking in your place. Your sex most likely played a causal role in you being invited and in this sense, too, you are a token woman.
Should you feel embarrassed, humiliated or otherwise unhappy with this situation?
Gheaus’s answer is a straightforward “no”. and she makes lots of interesting points – its really well worth reading, especially if you have ever been or expect to be in the situation she addresses.
A good number of women, usually un-tenured women, have confirmed me that they often suffer from imposter syndrome at conferences (and in general) and that when they are the only woman presenting on a panel, or at a workshop, they often believe, or worry, that they have been asked simply because they were women. One of Gheaus’s aims is to undermine imposter syndrome, partly by observing that the incumbents are frequently there for reasons other than pure intellectual superiority to all other potential participants, and partly by arguing that the gendered conference campaign is likely to lead to (slightly) more meritocratic outcomes.
I’m just going to focus on the first part of that. One of her observations (true in my experience) is feeling like an imposters is often underlain by the assumption (which, if you reflected on it in the light of the evidence you would find ludicrous) that the pre-tokenistic method of selecting participants is purely meritocratic.
Conference organisers are also interested in having a friendly group of speakers, because this can be conductive to good scholarship but also to promote good conversation in general and a good atmosphere. All these goals – diversity and novelty, friendly and relaxed working relationships and good conversation in general – can, under lucky circumstances, serve to advance knowledge. But there is no reason to believe that the group of academics who are capable of advancing these goals in the context of particular conferences and volumes coincide exactly with the group of academics who are the absolute best in that particular subfield, even if it were possible to decide on the identity of the absolute best…. Finally, it is plausible that conference organisers and book editors use, at least occasionally, their decision power in order to invite – and thereby promote – their own academic friends or wouldbefriends, current and former students and other people they wish to please or help for one reason or another.
Most of us, including most men, have lots of reasons to believe that we were not selected for the conference/workshop invitation because we were the best scholar the organizers thought that they could get, and most of us never suffer any angst from this (because most of us never really think much about it). Here’s an offer of a footnote that Gheaus can use as an illustration: I made a list of reasons that I know I have been invited to specific conferences, or to give talks on campuses, in recent years, at some of which conferences I have been the equivalent of a token. In some cases the reasons were either made explicit or were totally obvious, and in other cases it is only on reflection that I can see the reason, but I am pretty confident about it. In most cases, obviously, there were other reasons too—people rarely deliberately invite somebody to participate in a conference or give a talk who they know, upfront, will be incompetent. But that goes for everyone who is a token woman too. Anyway here goes (some reasons have applied multiple times):
1. A token left-winger at a conference of free-marketeers
2. Somebody the organizers were getting funding from strongly recommended me
3. Somebody the organizers hoped to get funding from in the future strongly recommended me
4. I’m funny (this is a double-edged sword: I’m pretty sure that when you are junior its not a great idea to make it clear that you don’t take things very seriously)
5. I’m informal, and would start out the conference in the right spirit
6. A token philosopher
7. A token political philosopher
8. A token philosopher who knows about education policy
9. If I was speaking at the conference, it would be more likely that my dad, who is a much harder-to-get, more prestige-conferring, more popular (and better) speaker would accept his invitation 
10. A not-quite token atheist at a workshop on religious schooling (there’s usually another around)
11. Some of the organizers wanted to use my presence to integrate themselves into my networks
12. Some of the organizers wanted to use my presence to integrate their graduate students and/or junior colleagues into my networks
13. Getting me to know a junior colleague would make it more likely I would accept request to write tenure letter for said colleague
14. Some of the organizers were friends of mine and like seeing me
15. I’d already been invited by one unit on a campus, and somebody in that unit knew that a second unit would want me to give a talk given that I was already there, although they wouldn’t have bothered inviting me specially (several times)
16. I came to mind because the organizing committee included someone with a PhD from the program I teach or taught in
17. (When I was young) because I was a young, promising(-ish) young person and a conference with the same old eminent people would have looked bad
That’s not all the reasons, but a good sample. [I reserve the right to update the list as more reasons occur to me, and invite other academics, male and female, to add reasons that they know that that have been invited to participate in conferences or give talks on a campus]. It seems to me there is a rough rule that the more prestige-conferring you are as a “name”, the less likely it is that you have been selected because of your quality as academic rather than because your presence will confer prestige. (Of course, it wouldn’t do so if you were not of reasonably high quality, but we are all aware of academics whose status exceeds their purely academic quality (and, actually, although not high on the prestige-conferring continuum, I am pretty confident that I am higher on it than the quality of my academic work merits)). Nobody feels like an imposter because of any of this.
And there is an important way in which all the reasons I have given above for being invited differ from an invite that is caused by the gendered conference campaign. When it succeeds, what the gendered conference campaign does is counteracts, or go some way to counteracting, the implicit biases that prevail within the profession.
Anyway, read the whole thing.
 A while ago, I discovered that every female graduate student who enrolled in one particular cohort in my department (the only year I can remember, prior to this year, in which men did not outnumber women) believed that they had been admitted “only” (that’s a quote) because they were women, and that this had been the result of my renowned feminist colleague influencing admissions decisions. They each still believed the first part of this, even when they had compelling evidence that they were all going to be successful in the worst academic job market in living memory, and that they were considerably more successful (in terms of publications, conference presentations, etc) on average than the (excellent) men from their cohort. One of them even argued to me that their relative success might be down to the quality of teaching in the department being better for the women than for the men (but now I think about it, she must have been just giving me a hard time). It probably did not help that some men in the program (not the professors, who, as far as I know, were unaware of this) referred to that cohort as “the year of the sorority”.
 I’ve left this one in because it is true, and funny, but I realize someone could argue that in this case the invitation to me was extended as a matter of merit, albeit not mine, but in an attempt to raise the expected probability of having a very high quality conference by snagging my dad.