Girls break East's traditions;Research Focus

1st May 1998 at 01:00
The many thousands of Vietnamese and other South-east Asians who have settled in America in recent years have high ambitions for their sons and more modest hopes for their daughters.

But they may soon have to adjust those traditional attitudes because research suggests that the girls are more ambitious than their brothers. Dr Clara Park of California State University, Northridge, questioned 738 teenage boys and girls about their hoped-for careers - 355 were European-Americans, 136 Hmong (Indochinese highlanders), 133 Vietnamese, 71 Cambodian and 43 Laotian. More than 80 per cent of the South-east Asian students were foreign-born and 69 per cent were in English-as-a-second-language classes.

Dr Park found that although the Cambodians, Hmong and Vietnamese were often from less affluent backgrounds their educational aspirations equalled the Anglo students'. Only the Lao teenagers were less ambitious.

But it was the high ambitions of the girls that surprised Dr Park. "Given the equal opportunities available in American society, South-east Asian girls appear to want to break away from the traditional female roles cherished in their native countries," she said.

Dr Clara Park, 450 N Reese Place, Burbank, CA 91506 e-mail: clara.park@csun.edu

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