Some of the social facts:
COURTSHIP AND WEDDINGS
Dating is almost unknown in Vietnam, where couples are almost always accompanied by chaperons, and many Vietnamese American parents feel very uncomfortable with the idea of their daughters going out alone with young men. Still, American-style dating has become fairly common among young Vietnamese Americans. Most Vietnamese Americans marry within their ethnic group, but Vietnamese American women are much more likely to marry non-Vietnamese than are Vietnamese American men.
Education is highly valued in Vietnamese culture, and the knowledge attained by children is viewed as a reflection on the entire family. In a study of achievement among southeast Asian refugees, Nathan Caplan, John K. Whitmore, and Marcella H. Choy found that with both grades and scores on standardized tests, Vietnamese American children ranked higher than other American children, although they did show deficiencies in language and reading. Even Catholic Vietnamese Americans usually attend public schools. Both males and females pursue higher education. A degree in engineering is by far the most popular degree, although this occupation tends to be pursued by males more than by females.
The high value placed on learning leads a large proportion of young Vietnamese Americans to pursue higher education. Almost half of Vietnamese Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 in 1990 were in college, compared with 39.5 percent of white Americans and 28.1 percent of black Americans in the same age group. High school dropout rates among young Vietnamese Americans were also lower than those of other Americans. Only 6.5 percent of Vietnamese Americans from ages 16 to 19 were neither enrolled in high school nor high school graduates, compared to 9.8 percent of white American youth and 13.7 percent of black American youth.
Vietnamese culture is patriarchal, but relations between male and female Vietnamese in the United States have become much more egalitarian. Vietnamese families strongly encourage higher education for both young men and young women. Still, almost all community leaders are men and young Vietnamese American women often voice frustration at the expectation that they should be primarily wives and mothers, even if they work outside the home.
It is common for Vietnamese American women to work outside the home (55.8 percent contribute to the labor force), but they are often employed in low-paying, marginal, part-time jobs. Although over 90 percent of the female civilian labor force for this group was currently employed in the 1990 census, only 66.6 percent were employed full-time.