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.
“I 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, ”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. “My 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, ”she said.
Last month she graduated from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando with a specialization in Harley-Davidson. “I am the first African American female technician to work on Harley-Davidson,” said McGowan. “You hardly see black technicians working on Harley-Davidson, but here we are.”
“There are a lot of black Harley riding women or just black women in general,” McGowan said. “We need to be shown more. My mother, who is a strong and proud black woman, rides her own motorbike. I have aunts and cousins 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.
“A lot of people have told me to just be a nurse instead,” McGowan said. “Don’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.
“We 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, ”she added.