Now, the 32-year-old manager of a New Delhi service station almost completely staffed by females finds that the young women approach her for jobs.
"It just struck me that this is something that girls are not doing. In most of the fields girls were there, except this field," says Srivastava, who is also proud to have been the first female air-traffic controller in the Indian Air Force.
In a sign of how young women in India are making inroads into male bastions of employment, several service stations in the capital have hired female attendants who do everything from filling petrol to checking oil, directing traffic and ? when required ? dealing with men who think a woman's place is at home.
It helps that a growing number of middle-class women, like Srivastava, are finding managerial work and have the clout to make hiring decisions. At call centres, offices and in politics they are opening the door for other young women by setting an example and recruiting their own.
Nail polish and grease
Rakhi Raja Ram, a 23-year-old high school graduate who had been working at a women-run Bharat Petroleum station for over a year, was astonished at the sight when she first came to the station with her father. But she quickly got used to the idea that it was a job a women could do as well.
"Some men come and say you've taken our jobs. It may be men's work but it's not that only men can do it," says Ram, whose long nails are painted a metallic shade of lavender, adding that she sometimes dispenses advice on cars when not working.
"Nowadays women are working shoulder-to-shoulder with men," Ram says.
Ram, who wears a uniform that consists of a yellow-and-blue baseball cap and flower-print shirt and trousers to match the company's logo, earns 3000 rupees (about $70; R444) each month.
Most of her salary goes to help with household expenses.
Huge growth of women in technical jobs
Her colleague Reena Kumari, a chubby-faced 22-year-old, says that working at the station has made her more confident.
"Now I'm not afraid to go anywhere alone," says Kumari, adding that it was more fun to be with the other girls at work than at home by herself.
Kumari's parents encouraged her to work at the station when they heard about an opening a year ago.
"My father said 'get a job, don't just sit around at home,'" Kumari said.
Indian women have long worked in farming or households, and the country has had a woman prime minister. But the big break came for working women after the economy was liberalised in the early 1990s and threw up jobs in media and software.
According to the Indian Ministry of Statistics, women accounted for 14 percent of the urban workforce in 2002, but occupied 20 percent of the professional and technical jobs.
Madhu Purnima Kishwar, a senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, says the most welcome part of the trend is that parents are encouraging their daughters to work.
"It's a positive sign because it requires a lot of dealing with men at all hours, and this is something that lower middle class families used to be reluctant about," says Kishwar, who also edits Manushi, a bi-monthly journal about Indian society and women.
Women workers 'make business sense'
For companies, hiring women at the point of contact with customers also makes business sense because it helps develop a sense of trust.
"It's really enlightened self-interest," says Kishwar. "First-generation women who come into the workforce are less likely to fiddle."
Dipika Alok, manager of a Bharat Petroleum station in South Delhi where 32 of the 40 employees are women, says sales soared 300 percent after the female team was put in place in March 2001.
"It's their sincerity, their commitment, customers feel like they're not cheating them," she explains, referring to an important concern for Indian customers.
Many customers seem to agree.
"They are very cordial compared to men. They won't steal petrol," says Vijay Kumar (35).
Suchismita Dhar (50) a teacher who was filling up at a Hindustan Petroleum pump, feels the same.
"They are very cooperative, efficient and well-behaved," says Dhar.
Still, some customers resent women getting jobs normally occupied by men in India.
"There is so much unemployment these days. Otherwise what young girl would work in a pump?" grumbles Sohan Lal (28) a chauffeur. "Drivers are men, so men should be working here."