Members of a feminist group have criticised a boys-only wall of fame for pupils as a "detrimental gimmick".
The scheme at Shirebrook Academy, in Derbyshire, aims to address male pupils' "persistent underperformance".
Vice principal Andy Gilbert said the school wanted to "change the traditional male culture".
However, Feminist Friends of Nottingham said it was wrong to single out boys rather than celebrating the achievement of all pupils.
Mr Gilbert said male pupils at the school performed worse than girls in a "whole range of measures".
He said: "We have some fantastic boys, a big proportion do not need extra motivation, but there are a lot of boys in our community who miss that male role model."
He added that female pupils at the school have accepted boys need this "extra level of reward", and female teachers are "100% behind it".
However, Sian Steans, a member of Feminist Friends of Nottingham, said only putting boys up as role models was "detrimental" for both boys and girls and a "gimmick" that does not address the root of the problem.
"It's staggering hearing girls say their initial thoughts were that it was not fair, but they have since been made to feel they have to accept it," she said.
"[They are saying] 'maybe boys do need more attention than me', and I think that's a sad thing for them to have to accept at a young age."
Jayne Osgood, professor in education at Middlesex University London, said problems with poor attainment go deeper than gender and argued the biggest determinant of success was social background.
She described the scheme as "bold" but "deeply problematic".