Paris McGowan becomes first black female technician for famous Harley-Davidson motorcycle brand
Blacks face systemic challenges in the United States. The challenges are more pronounced among Black woman. Faced with all these adversities, a woman showed envy and tenacity.
Paris McGowan of St. Louis has defied all odds to make history as the first black female technician for Harley-Davidson, the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy-duty motorcycles. McGowan, 25, learned to ride motorcycles just two years ago.
” I am small. So when people see me on my bike, they say ‘Oh my god that’s a girl,’ “she said. KSDK. Her journey in a field often associated with masculinity began when she received a job offer at the Gateway Harley-Davidson store in southern St. Louis County.
â€œI came to Harley-Davidson for a job interview because I was always hanging out a bit. I saw the bike I wanted before going for the job interview. I ended up buying the bike, â€McGowan said.
Across America, women who ride motorcycles are on the rise. A national Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) survey found that among all age groups, women make up 19% of motorcycle owners, down from less than 10% less than a decade ago.
The survey found greater ownership among the younger generations. Among Millennials, 26% of motorcycle owners were women. Among Generation X, 22% were women.
Although McGowan learned to ride motorcycles about two years ago, driving has always been a part of his family. â€œMy uncles all rode on sports bikes, Kawasaki and Ninjas and everything. They have a picture of me somewhere, I’m about 8 years old sitting on a motorcycle, â€she said.
Last month she graduated from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando with a specialization in Harley-Davidson. â€œI am the first African American female technician to work on Harley-Davidson,â€ said McGowan. “You hardly see black technicians working on Harley-Davidson, but here we are.”
â€œThere are a lot of black Harley riding women or just black women in general,â€ McGowan said. â€œWe need to be shown more. My mother, who is a strong and proud black woman, rides her own motorbike. I have aunts and cousins â€‹â€‹who all ride together. I mean, we just did a Women’s Unity tour for Labor Day. I believe there were at least 300 or more female runners, and it was amazing.
What motivated McGowan to become a technician? According to her, this was fueled by her desire to fix things and find out how it works. She met people who tried to dissuade her from her ambition.
â€œA lot of people have told me to just be a nurse instead,â€ McGowan said. â€œDon’t listen to anyone who is preventing you from achieving your dream. Don’t do it because they don’t know you. They don’t know where you are from.
â€œWe are in 2020. It is time to move on. We shouldn’t have these barriers anymore. If you can do it, I can do it. Also, maybe even better. I just found a passion for myself and I held onto it. I can only start the snowball, â€she added.