If it was part of a TNR (trap, neuter, release) program the tip of the ear is cut off when the procedure is done to be able to identify cats that have already had it done. If the ear isn't tipped, then as you said, boys are easier but there's really no way to tell with girls unless you see her acting like she's in heat. Sometimes even shaving the belly looking for a scar isn't conclusive...I heard of a cat where the belly was shaved, couldn't find scar but when they did the surgery there was nothing to take out.
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Holly, Misty & their friend, Jake, the dog.
Onyx, Callie May, Maggie & Kobi forever in my heart.
Yes, I know I need a new signature pic...someday...