first of all a disclaimer: I am a white man, so I definitely have blind spots here and there and maybe see things for better than they really are. But I'll do my best to give an objective answer.
I believe that Vlad and Guennael have already made some good points. I am including below an answer to a similar question from some days ago, with some minor edits.
Just one additional point:
I do fear that racism may be a tougher nut to crack than sexism (especially the blatant kind) . After all, women make up half of the population, so all of us have had quite a bit exposure to smart, ambitious, admirable women. So we've kinda gotten used to that.
But in many societies in W. Europe, you get A LOT less exposure to smart, ambitious, admirable people of different races. First of all because they don't make up half of the population, secondly because many of "these groups" are under-proportionally represented in higher education and the traditional circles where consultants come from. There's a million reasons for that, which I don't want to get into, but the fact remains. Also, sadly, in the current political climate in Europe, many groups are overgeneralized ("the Muslims", "the Africans") and wholesale associated with trouble. And counter-examples of well-integrated, successful people of different races are viewed as the exception to the rule, rather than vice versa. Obviously this does not happen to women, at least not to that extent.
An anecdote to that:
A good friend and former colleague has Vietnamese roots. A few years ago, he moved to the US. He said it was such a relief for him to not see the surprise on clients faces when he walked into a room that he had seen so many times in Germany. So even today, people are surprised to see an Asian-looking guy walk into a meeting. Nobody would be surprise to see a woman enter the same meeting.
So if I would have to guess who has a harder time, for example in Germany: Probably someone whose name is Ali, Mohammed, Kofi or Minh, rather than someone whose name is Theresa, Sarah or Melanie.
Hope this helps,
Here's my answer from a few days back:
first of all a disclaimer: I am a [white] man, so I definitely have blind spots here and there and maybe see things for better than they really are. But I'll do my best to give an objective answer.
All your questions are justified and the observations are 100% correct.
Consulting [in Europe] is still male-dominated [and predominately white], and the more senior it gets the more so. Tons of reasons for that, many of them related to compatibility of consultant lifestyle with family.
The good news is that I believe that the industry has relatively little gender [/racial] bias or gender [/racial] discrimination, especially when it comes to recruiting. The firms in Germany that I have worked for and with or that I know well from close friends (Horváth & Partners, goetzpartners, BCG, Bain, McKinsey, SMP, EY, to name a few) are very conscious of this imbalance and actively try to work against that.
So I believe that being a woman [/non-white] definitely doesn't hurt your chances during the recruiting process. It may even help just a little bit (but really only a little bit).
During work, you'll obviously encounter the everyday sexism [and racism] both from clients and colleagues. Consulting is not a safe haven from that, although you'll mostly be working with young, highly educated and relatively progressive, open-minded individuals (as colleagues), so there are definitely worse places. I hope this sexism [/racism] doesn't manifest itself too much in your formal evaluations and feedback on your work, but it will definitely happen in everyday situations. Sorry about that!
Regarding the long-term: That is up to you. I believe the way to senior roles is wide open for women. But, consulting is a really tough job to align with family, even under the best of circumstances and even for men in more traditional family settings (man as the sole / main breadwinner). So I am aware that the sacrifices that are demanded from women to get there and the conflicts regarding expectations are infinitesimally higher for women than for men.
I can only encourage you to try to be a trailblazer because our industry needs more of them. But I am aware that it's asking a lot.
Hope this helps,