Paris McGowan just became Harley-Davidson’s first Black female technician.
“When you think America and you think motorcycles, you think Harley-Davidson,” said McGowan. “I’m tiny, so when people see me on my bike, they’re like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a girl.’”
According to KSDK, the 25-year old revealed that she learned to ride motorcycles just two years after getting a job at the Gateway Harley-Davidson store in south St. Louis County.
“I came up to Harley-Davidson for a job interview because I was always kind of hanging around,” she said. “I saw the bike that I wanted before I did the job interview. I ended up purchasing the bike.”
Just last month McGowan graduated from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando with a specialization in Harley-Davidson. Although the program is only supposed to take 10 months, due to the impact of COVID-19, she spent a year in school. She says her graduation was extra special once she realized she’d made history.
“I’m the first African-American female technician to work on Harley-Davidson,” McGowan shares. “You barely see any Black technicians working on Harley-Davidson, but here we are.”
McGowan says that the Harley-Davidson community is more like a family that embraces her with open arms. She also says there are more female riders, including Black women, than most people realize.
“There are a lot of Black female Harley riders or just Black female riders in general,” said McGowan. “We need to be shown more. My mother, who is a strong, proud Black woman, rides her own motorcycle. I have aunts and cousins who all ride together. I mean, we just did a female unity ride for Labor Day. I believe there were at least 300 or more female riders out there, and it was incredible.”
While McGowan understands that she isn’t exactly who people imagine when they picture motorcycle technicians and riders, she says clashing with stereotypes and breaking boundaries is empowering.
“It’s 2020,” she said. “It’s 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, and I stuck with it. I can only just start the snowball.”